Scott: The attacks could come at any time, like this one in broad daylight! She is talking on her phone one minute, the next it is gone.
That crime took place in San Francisco where, these days, nearly half of all robberies involve a smartphone.
In Los Angeles, cell phone thefts have increased 32%, and in New York, they are up 40%.
Paul Vernon: Now what we’re seeing is cell phones overtaking, eclipsing money as the number one thing being stolen from people –and to me, that’s astounding!
Scott: Smartphones are easy to reprogram and resell, sometimes for hundreds of dollars.
The government stepped in last year, getting wireless providers to create a centralized database of stolen phones to make them easier to track and shut off.
Yet some, like the iPhone, remain so valuable the attacks can turn violent.
Ashley Sedillo: I kind of thought it was someone kind of playing a prank on me. And then I realized with how forceful they were when they whipped me around, that it was not a joke.
Scott: Ashley was at the bus stop texting her mom when it happened to her. She tried to hold onto the phone, and that is when the attack got worse.
Ashley: His friend came from the side of me and hit me in the face twice.
Scott: In New York City, the theft of iPhones is actually driving up crime in the city.
Ray Kelly: Our crime statistics have gone up almost four percent this year. If in fact there were no thefts of Apple products, we actually have a decrease this year.
Scott: Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, theft of Apple products in New York City has nearly tripled, reaching 13,782 in just the first nine months of this year.
Police say the key is to be more aware of your surroundings.
You wouldn’t count the cash in your wallet out in public and police say you shouldn’t flaunt your phone either.
Paul: It’s like wearing a t-shirt saying, ‘I’m a victim; take my phone.’
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.