BART warning of spike in cell phone thefts

BART police is handing out cards on trains this week advising passengers to be aware of their surroundings to avoid cellphone thieves.

 According to BART, the index-card sized handouts include tips on protecting cellphones and emphasize the importance of stowing devices on station platforms and looking up from phones when train doors open.

 BART officials said detectives will primarily pass out handouts between the Embarcadero and Balboa Park stations in San Francisco from midday to the early afternoon.

"Many of the cell phone thefts on BART are crimes of opportunity,"  BART Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez said in a news release. "Thieves will board a train and wait until the moment it arrives at a station and the doors open to snatch a phone and make a quick escape."

A total of 402 electronic item thefts were reported to BART in the first four months of this year. BART police have arrested 29 suspects for robbery or grand theft across that period and have launched an officer recruitment campaign to reduce crime on its trains, according to the transit agency.