By Ed Mertz

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Distracted smartphone users are increasingly falling victim to theft at coffee shops and other digital hangouts, police said Monday.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports owners have even been targeted while playing on their device or holding their phone in their hand.

Local law enforcement agencies are warning iPhone, Droid and other smartphone owners of a sharp rise in the number of robberies targeting those devices.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” said Hawthorne Police Lt. Scott Swain. “You see a victim walking down the street, talking on the phone, playing on the phone, and it’s just a matter of running up, grabbing the phone, and getting out of there.”

The devices are also being stolen after simply being left unattended by its owner.

Swain said the information on the phones can then be used to make calls before being put up for sale on websites for hundreds of dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission is working with law enforcement on potential ways to identify the stolen devices and prevent any illegal use.


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