'Apple picking' thieves target smart phones

April 5, 2013 2:26:53 PM PDT
An iPhone user said she was minding her own business when someone came up and snatched the device right out of her hands.

Police call it 'Apple Picking.'

Rachel Sabolic, 23, said she had just left her job at the Quaker Bridge Mall back on March 27th when it happened to her. Surveillance video shows her walking when the thief, believed to be a teenager, circled around, came up from behind and stole her iPhone.

She wasn't going to let him get it without a fight.

"He came up on me and started yanking on it, just yanking, and I'm holding on for dear life!" Rachel said. "I'm a hard worker but I don't have insurance on my phone, so that was not only my personal property but my pride going with it."

The suspect and his three companions ran to their car and Rachel followed, hurting herself as she was thrown from the vehicle when it pulled away.

Lawrence police are putting the word out about "Apple Picking" because people everywhere - not just at the mall - are making themselves easy targets.

"[Thieves] will walk behind them while they're distracted, texting or talking and reach behind them and take their phone," said Sgt. Joe Amodio of the Lawrence Police.

Because the bandits grab the phones while they're unlocked and in use, police say it can put private information that may be in there about bank accounts or credit cards at risk.

The stolen phones have not been recovered and the suspects remain on the loose.

As a result of what happened, Rachel says she's now changed how and where she uses her iPhone.

"Texting and walking... that's all you have to do. You're not paying attention, you're vulnerable and it's not good," she said." People need to be self-aware."