• Seattle police say people staring at smartphone are targeted for thefts

    By: John Knicely

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - You can't walk around these days without seeing people entranced, looking down at a smart phone. But besides connecting us to the world it's disconnecting us to our immediate surroundings. 

    Seattle police said they are repeatedly seeing this leading to theft.

    "One of the things that we see is these people being cased for robberies," said Seattle police Officer Sean Whitcomb. "And it's usually a couple of folks. Very rarely is it one-on-one."

    KIRO 7 morning anchor John Knicely walked around downtown Seattle with Whitcomb and former FBI Intelligence Operative Naveed Jamali to get their perspectives.

    "Are you seeing people grab and run, like grab a cell phone?" asked Knicely.

    "Yeah, yeah absolutely," said Whitcomb, who added that if you don't look up at least every 10 seconds, the bad guys take notice.

    KIRO 7 noticed a woman looking at her smartphone and not looking up. A man walked close by and she didn't notice.

    So Whitcomb explained what could've happened.

    "He walks by right now, reaches down grabs it, he's gone," said Whitcomb. "There's the bus tunnel (nearby). You're not going to see him again. She's going to go, 'What just happened?' So it's just that easy, unfortunately."

    That didn't happen in this case, but both experts agreed that if you feel you're being cased, change up the scenario by changing your direction or ducking into a nearby business.

    "Thieves and robbers don't like any confrontation that they cannot control," said Whitcomb. "So if you change up the scenario outside of what they imagined would go down it disrupts that pattern."

    As soon as you're in a safe place, call police.

    "What I left with is the impression you need to take care of yourself," said Jamali. "If you feel at risk, dial 911."

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