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Berkeley Police Department
Monday May 23rd, 2016 :: 12:44 p.m. PDT


Cell Phone Robbery Prevention Tips

The Berkeley Police Department occasionally investigates street robberies of cell phones committed through a common ruse designed to take advantage of people’s willingness to help others.  The suspect(s) will ask to use a victim’s cell phone—usually claiming the need to contact a sick family member. Once the suspect has the cell phone, the suspect(s) drive off in a vehicle—stealing the phone.


BPD would like to remind and encourage people to employ a few crime prevention measures that can help reduce your risk of falling prey to these types of crimes.


Do not lend your phone to anyone you do not know or take it out of your purse, pocket or bag to give someone the time, if asked.  If you must, consider keeping possession of your phone and placing the call for them—without giving the phone over. Remember that producing a phone upon request can confirm for a robber that you have a phone worth stealing.


Know that you can simply respond by saying, something to the effect of, “I’m sorry I can’t help you,” and continuing on your way.


If someone is experiencing an emergency, retain the phone and call the Berkeley Police Department at 981-5911, and report the emergency.


Do not talk on cell phones or listen to iPods when alone outside as they significantly limit awareness.


Do walk with purpose: Project an assertive image that conveys you know where you are going.


Do avoid isolation: Avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages, and alleyways; stick to well-lit, high-traffic areas.


Do keep a safe distance: Do not let people get too close, even if they appear to have a reason, such as asking for the time.


Always trust your instincts: Trusting your own instincts that a situation seems “wrong” can be the best personal safety tool you have.

Berkeley Police Department
2100 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 510-981-5900

Byron White
Operations Division

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