Robbers targeting iPhone and Android users; crime epidemic being called "Apple Picking"

(WXYZ) - Is your Apple iPhone or Android cell phone making you mugger bait? Police say robbers are watching as you text and make calls, ready to pick off your expensive smart phone.

Police are calling the robberies "Apple Picking," a play on Apple iPhone users who are often the targets.

"Lately there's a lot of people, where they're walking and they're getting the phones taken out of their hands – or beaten up for them," said Clare Glesser, a student at Wayne State.

And in fact Wayne State had such a serious problem with so-called "Apple Picking," at one point police were recording at least one robbery a day. The campus issued a crime alert and the incidents have decreased, but it's still a major issue.

One of our own interns was a victim. She stopped to give someone directions when they ripped her iPhone 4 from her hands and then drove off.

"I wasn't texting or listening to music. I was just trying to help someone who said they were lost and couldn't find their class," said Gabriella Pagan, a Wayne State student and 7 Action News intern.

Gabriella's phone was likely wiped and sold on the streets. Wayne State Center for Urban Studies Professor David Martin says some lower tier service providers will activate a stolen phone.

"You just show up and they'll give you a new SIM card and boom, you're on your way," said Professor Martin.

Crimes are also taking place across the country, where cameras have caught robbers assaulting unsuspecting victims as they walked down streets using their phones in broad daylight.

In one incident robbers were caught on tape using a car to ram through the front of an Apple Store - once inside the thieves grabbed as many phones as they could.

Wayne State's police department says you can protect yourself by using common sense.

"Would you walk down the street with cash in front of you? Or if you were counting it would you be somewhere where you couldn't be as likely observed and targeted. It's just that simple. It's a valuable device," said Lt. Dave Scott with the Wayne State Police Department.

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