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Suspect Wanted for Theft
updated: Jun 05, 2013, 4:46 PM

Source: Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office

At around 8:20 a.m. this morning, a UCSB student who was walking to campus in the 6700 block of Abrego Road in Isla Vista had her cell phone forcibly ripped out of her hand and stolen. The victim was wearing ear phones when the suspect confronted her, grabbed her cell phone and fled on foot. Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies responded, secured a perimeter and brought in Santa Barbara Air Support Unit Copter 2 to help search for the suspect. He was not located.

The suspect is described as a college-aged Hispanic or Asian male about 5'7" tall with a stocky build. He has dark, medium length hair parted to the side. He was wearing black sunglasses, a black jacket, black shorts and black shoes. If you have any information on this crime or his whereabouts, you are asked to call the Santa Barbara County Criminal Investigations Division at (805) 681- 4150.

The forcible cell phone theft is the most recent in a string of similar cases in Isla Vista this year. Several of the incidents have occurred in broad day light in the same general area and have involved female victims, who are walking by themselves and actively using their cell phones. In one case, the victim, who was also wearing ear phones, received minor injuries when the suspect forced her to the ground to take her cell phone. Detectives are investigating whether the thefts are related.

The Sheriff's Office wants to remind the public that cell phones are expensive, valuable commodities that can be a prime target for thieves. Cities across the globe, are reporting an increase in the amount of cell phone related crimes they are seeing. In particular, they are finding what is referred to by some as "apple-picking", where like "purse snatching", cell phones are literally ripped out of the hands of victims. The phones are sold for money and/or used for identity theft purposes.

The public is encouraged to take the following safety measures to lessen their chances of becoming a victim and to protect themselves in the event their smart phone is stolen.

If you are not using your cell phone, put it in a safe and secure area.

If you are using your phone, make sure you are aware of your surroundings.

Write down your phone's 15 digit serial number so it can be traced back to you in the event it is stolen and recovered.

If your phone is stolen, make sure you report the theft right away to law enforcement and your wireless carrier.

Make sure you have a security lock and password for your phone which will make it more difficult for a thief to use your phone and access your information.

Never hand your phone over for someone to use and be careful of potential schemes that may be used to distract you and provide an opportunity for a thief to take your phone. For example, someone saying their battery died and asking if they could use your phone or asking you for the time which will require you to retrieve your phone or look down to check.

If you have more questions on cell phone related thefts or safety tips, please contact PIO Kelly Hoover at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office at (805) 681-4192.



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