Police address increase in smartphone robberies


Police are issuing a warning for anyone with a smartphone after another robbery in Indianapolis Monday night.

The latest incident happened to a man and his friend, who found themselves face-to-face with robbers in Broad Ripple Monday night as they walked to their car after a night of partying.

"They came up behind us and said, 'Give me everything. Give me everything you got,' with a gun," the victim said.

He is part of a growing list of robbery victims who have been forced to give up their smartphones. Last week, two 16-year-old friends were robbed of their phones.

Community leaders tell Eyewitness News cell phone thieves are making fast money selling stolen cell phones at neighborhood phone stores.

But the owner of one store says most of the time, before buying a cell phone, he does his homework.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, I do check. If somebody brings me a phone broken already, I need a battery from it, I will be honest with you, I do not check fro that, if it's broken. But if it is a good, working phone, yes, I check on (the phone's Electronic Serial Number)," said Sam, the store owner.

The rise in cell phone robberies is a huge concern for IMPD Chief Rick Hite. He even warned one retailer that buying stolen cell phones is a crime of receiving stolen goods.

"We don't want to create this underground market for cell phones and that is what we are starting to see and we are going to go after that," Hite said.

The chief warns robbery victims to never put up a fight with someone demanding your phone at gunpoint. Instead, you should cooperate and call police.

Hite says until we see fewer smartphone robberies, you should not only stay alert using your cell phone in public, but also teach your children not to show their smartphones to strangers.