D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier reported progress Monday in curbing thefts of smartphones, an effort that was underscored earlier in the day when one of her top officials chased and caught an iPhone robber.

Lanier told a news conference that thefts of such devices, which have been affecting many jurisdictions, have declined in the District by 15 percent in the past 30 days. She credited a new policy of paying for robbery tips and vigorous police work.

In a vivid example of such police work, Cmdr. Jacob Kishter, who heads the 3rd Police District, sprang into action about noon when he spotted someone grabbing an iPhone from its owner at Vermont Avenue and 12th Street NW.

Kishter, a law enforcement veteran of more than 20 years, pursued the person on foot for five blocks through streets and alleys before catching him.

At Monday’s news conference, Lanier also reported the conclusion of what she said was another part of the effort to stop thefts of electronics.

She said an operation lasting more than three weeks targeted businesses dealing in stolen property and led to the seizure of hundreds of cellphones, seven iPads, 11 tablet or notebook computers, and other devices, including Global Positioning System equipment.

She said that 13 search warrants were executed Monday and that 16 people had been arrested.

“We are working hard and holding people accountable for their crimes,” Lanier said.