University City In Philly On Alert For Cell Phone Thefts - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

University City In Philly On Alert For Cell Phone Thefts

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In the University City area, everybody, whether college kid or professor, is on alert. Or at least they should be.

Police say that thieves are targeting cell phones in particular, snatching them right out of people's hands when they're talking or texting on them.

Our phones have so many features now, and many people have some personal information on there. Getting a phone stolen is not just a few hundred bucks, it could also lead to identity theft, and whole lot worse.

As college students are back from school, lots of kids are at risk for having their phones stolen. Last Friday was the first smash and grab. The suspect took off on bike.

Having your cell phone out is like holding couple of hundred dollar bills out in your hand, says FOX 29's Steve Keeley. The difference with that is while you're reading away, tweeting away, typing and texting away, you're vulnerable because you're not looking at your surroundings.

Here's what some students had to say.

"I'm not surprised that happens, because you can sell an iPhone, you can get so much money. And everyone has one, so it's something easy to steal," says one. "I think since we're attached to our cell phones, I don't think anyone would take it out of my hand. But I think it's so easy for you to leave it somewhere and someone to take it."

"I try not to have my phone out and I usually keep it in my back pack, not my pockets. So it is not even visible from there." says another.

"I just am aware of my surroundings. I make sure I hold it tighter when I'm in the city. Just be aware."

"This is West Philadelphia," says another. "People just walk and look down at their cell phones. I wouldn't be surprised if people snatched them."

"If I'm in a super well populated area … with … students, I'm comfortable having the cell phone out on the desk or working on my laptop. But if I know that I'm somewhere late at night, by myself, in an area that I don't really know, I do try my best to keep it concealed and not for public view."

Cell phone thefts happened last semester at Drexel where these students attend. Keeley remembers when five kids all at once had their cell phones stolen. The students helped police catch the criminals, because they had the iPhone app that could track, through GPS technology, their iPhones. The cops eventually caught three people, two guys and a girl.

The FCC and all of the phone carriers have been planning to create a centralized national data base designed to track stolen phones, which allows owners to instantly disable them, making them useless to steal. But until that happens, students should be never be too careful.

Despite incidents of cell phone thefts, and the fact that they're in West Philly, students walking around Penn and Drexel's campuses are already barely walking down the sidewalk without bumping into people because they are reading and writing, texting, talking on their phones or listening to music. Trying to tell a college kid not to talk on their cell phone in between classes and be in the moment is like trying to tell a college kid to only eat healthy food this fall semester.

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