Seven thefts on Metro in one day

February 21, 2013
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP.

Metro officials said there were seven thefts Wednesday of electronic devices on the Metro train and bus system — far more than the one or two a day that usually happen.

The incidents occurred over a 12-hour period in Maryland, the District and Virginia and officials said there appeared to be no pattern or specific group of individuals involved.

“Seven in one day is unusual,” said Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman. Typically, he said, police officials find that thefts increase in January and February after people have gotten new devices for the holidays, but this many in one day is rare.

“There doesn’t seem to be a common thread between these seven,” Stessel said.

The thefts occurred at the following places:

* At 9:38 a.m., on a Green Line train at Archives, an iPad was snatched from a rider. The victim and the alleged thief got into a struggle, and the victim recovered the iPad. The suspect was last seen exiting on 8th Street, police said. No injuries were reported.

* At 12:55 p.m., on a Green Line train at Shaw-Howard U, a rider said, a suspect ran onto the train, took the rider’s iPhone and ran off the train.

* At 1:10 p.m., on an Orange Line train at Ballston, a thief took a cellphone out of a rider’s hand on a Vienna-bound train. The rider and a companion followed the thief off the train and confronted the person on the platform. One of the riders was “struck on the left cheek” by the thief, according to Metro, but did not require treatment. The two riders recovered the phone.

* At 5:19 p.m., on a Metrobus at Kennedy and 7th Streets NW, a person reported an iPhone theft by another rider who was preparing to get off the bus. The suspect was last seen running south on 7th Street NW.

* At 6:35 p.m., on the Orange Line at Deanwood, a person’s iPhone was snatched as he was going up an escalator.

* About 8 p.m., on a Green Line train at Naylor Road, a rider’s iPhone was stolen. But Metro Transit Police were able to track the phone and make an arrest. The iPhone was recovered.

* At 8:54 p.m., at Shady Grove, a person was waiting for a #55 Ride On bus when someone approached him and they started talking. The conversation became a dispute, officials said, and the rider’s iPhone was stolen. The suspect ran through a parking lot toward Route 355.

Theft of electronic devices on Metro’s rail and bus systems has risen significantly.

Metro officials said the thefts should serve as a reminder to riders to keep their devices out of sight when on buses and trains. If riders do use their devices, Stessel warned, “don’t be so enthralled with what you’re looking at that you’re not paying attention to the suspicious guy lurking behind you.”

He also cautioned riders not to use their devices near train or bus doors because thieves often board a train or bus, snatch a device and then exit quickly.

If your phone is stolen, all carriers now do a process called “bricking,” by which a device is disabled and rendered useless so it cannot be resold, officials said.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.
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