Vancouver police arrest 14 in cellphone snatcher crackdown

VPD special project targeted opportunistic thieves stealing electronic devices from restaurant patios and coffee shops.

Police remind people to keep a close eye on electronics in public

More than a dozen people have been arrested as part of special project by Vancouver police aimed at reducing the theft of electronic devices in the city's downtown core. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

More than a dozen people have been arrested as part of special project by Vancouver police aimed at reducing the theft of electronic devices in the city's downtown core.

The project was devised after police saw an increase in the number of cellphones, laptops and tablets stolen in coffee shops or on restaurant patios late in the summer. 

Officers left "bait" devices unattended and, after they were stolen, tracked the devices, found the thieves and arrested them. 

The project was carried out over six days in September and October. A total of 14 people were arrested. So far, 10 people have been charged with theft. Charges against the other four are pending. 

The police say the success of the project should serve as a warning to would-be thieves. 

"We will do these types of [special projects] any time that we can, and we have the available resources," said Sgt. Jason Robillard. "And we'll do it anywhere throughout the city."

Robillard urged members of the public to keep a close watch on their electronic devices to avoid becoming a target for thieves.

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