Ottawa

Smartphone robberies on the rise in Ottawa

With more and more people using pricey smartphones, Ottawa police are warning of a matching rise in smartphone thefts.

Cellphones among most commonly stolen items in city, police say

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With more and more people using pricey smartphones, Ottawa police are warning of a matching rise in smartphone thefts.

Police said stolen smartphones can sell for hundreds of dollars online, and that there's been a notable increase in cellphone robberies over the last two to three years.

“Typically we see [cellphone robberies] when people are doing something, travelling from point A to point B … they’ve got a phone out and they’re using it to listen to music or text,” said Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch of the Ottawa police robbery unit.

“It’s often a crime of opportunity.”

Haarbosch said bus stops and secluded paths are areas where people should be extra wary of thieves.

Cellphones among most commonly stolen items

While they don’t track robberies based on what’s stolen, Haarbosch said cellphones are among the most common items stolen in street robberies.

Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch says cellphones are among the most commonly-reported items stolen on Ottawa's streets. (CBC)

He said Ottawa police have received around 400 reports of street robberies so far in 2013.

Dana Meehan said she’s been rethinking her habit of pulling out her phone to kill time at the bus stop.

“Some of my friends had their cellphone stolen right out of their pocket,” she said.

“Someone would come up, grab it and just walk off.”

Haarbosch said it’s too early to tell if a stolen cellphone blacklist, which lets companies check if a phone has been reported as stolen before activating it, has made a difference.

That list was started by some of Canada’s largest service providers in September.

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