DENVER (CBS4) – Thieves are targeting something that most people probably carry with them every day, and it’s not a wallet — it’s iPhones.

In some cases the phones are being ripped right out of the victims’ hands. Or they’ll ask if they can make an emergency call and take off running with it.

iPhones have become one of the most popular cellphone brands. It’s the brand thieves are after.

“I keep it in my pocket. I look after it, hold it. I never let it go,” a woman on 16th Street Mall said.

“I just always keep it on me. I never really get it out of my sight,” a man said.

According to Denver police, the number of iPhone thefts increased from 95 in 2011 to 155 this year. That’s more than a 62 percent increase.

“That could be largely because that’s what people are carrying more of. But one thing we are seeing; we’re seeing a lot of folks being stolen along the bus route and those kind of corridors,” Sonny Jackson with Denver police said.

While the total number of phone thefts year to year has stayed the same, police are looking into why thieves appear to be targeting iPhones more. One idea is the resale value.

“They’re worth quite a bit of money. If nothing else for parts,” Jackson said.

While the biggest increase of iPhone thefts is happening out east, Denver police want residents to be careful. They suggest not flashing a cellphone in public. Don’t let strangers borrow a phone to make a call. Don’t leave your phone in plain sight in your car or home. And don’t purchase a used phone unless it’s certain it’s not stolen.

“I think if we all take the measures to make sure something is not stolen before we buy it that takes the bottom out of the market,” Jackson said.

Sen. Mark Udall is also trying to put a stop to the thefts. He’s asking the Federal Communications Commission to work with cellphone companies to stop activating used cellphones that have previously been reported stolen in efforts to put a stop the iPhone black market.

Police also suggest jotting down the make and model of a cellphone and the serial number. That way if it is stolen and then recovered police can get it back to the victim.


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