LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Cell phone thefts are on the rise in downtown LA.

Authorities say 54 cell phones have been reported stolen in the Skid Row area in the first three months of 2012, compared to 115 theft during all of 2011.

Cell phones are being snatched from restaurant tables, libraries and nightclubs.

Police say a thief can easily turn an iPhone into a pay-as-you-go phone just by replacing the SIM card.

If cell phone thefts continue at this rate, there could be an increase of nearly 150 percent by the end of the year.

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