iPhone thefts on Muni becoming way too common

7 Minutes
Photo by Flickr user Jamison

Ed. note: This is seriously the umpteenth time I’ve heard what amounts to the same story: at least two thuggy teenagers coordinate holding the back door open while the other(s) prey upon the (usually female) victim, who is texting or using the web on her iPhone, in a seat or standing by the back door. As this storyteller/witness, Mari, says: Be vigilant, and report the crimes. Also, if you can, please attend Supervisor Bevan Dufty’s hearing at City Hall at 11 a.m. this morning. The a propos topic: Muni safety. (If anyone live-tweets or liveblogs the hearing, let us know. The Twitter hashtag is #municrimehearing.)

Friday night, November 20th, I was riding the 38 Geary outbound and at the Webster stop I suddenly heard a woman shout, “Hey! Hey!” A kid (teen) had grabbed her iPhone and jumped off the bus. The woman and other passengers jumped off bus, too and to chase the culprit. Because she had gotten off the bus and left the scene, our driver couldn’t call police.

As bus continued, I heard witnesses talking, and realized I had seen the teens (approximately 13 to 15 years old) on the bus (in fact they were the only individuals under twenty on the bus). One looked very agitated and I almost thought he was concerned about missing his stop—he kept looking for someone behind him on the crowded bus. When he got up I took his seat. Then the iPhone was stolen. Others on bus talked about how the kids had been watching the victim and using non-verbal communication, had coordinated the robbery.

Saturday night, November 21st, I was again riding the 38 Geary outbound, also around the same time of night (around 10pm) that I rode it the previous night. I saw 2 teens board the bus around Van Ness, and I thought I recognized them from the night before, but wasn’t absolutely positive as this night one wore a low baseball cap and the other wore a hoodie with the hood up around his face. I watched them sitting at the back of the bus. As we got to Laguna one of them stood near the door and I saw him nod. Then a third person, in his 20s (per the victim) grabbed a woman’s iPhone and ran off the bus.

The culprits jumped off the bus. This time the victim stayed on the bus. I went up to the bus driver to tell him of the robbery and that it had happened last night and that I believed the 2 teens from the previous night were involved.

In fact, here’s the M.O.: an accomplice waits by the exit door, keeps it open so that as everyone exits the bus the robber can wait until the exit is clear of people then snatch the phone and get away. Both nights they targeted women and both women were not on the phone talking, but rather texting or surfing the web—which makes it easier to take the phone away with force.

The driver called the police and the victim, her family, and I all gave a description of what happened and who we thought were involved.

Please spread the word.

iPhone users beware. Especially on 38 Geary bus.

If you have an iPhone, be sure to register it online so that Police can track it. You must already have it registered for them to be able to track it in a situation like this.

Check out this link to learn more about registering your iPhone: http://www.apple.com/webapps/utilities/freeitracklostandfoundregistry.html

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