By Bay City News Service
Oakland and BART police Thursday responded to a spike in robberies of cell phones and electronic devices in and around BART stations in Oakland by warning commuters to pay attention and not be distracted by such devices.
Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said officers handed out fliers at Oakland BART stations advising people to try to conceal their electronics items while traveling on BART so they don't become victims of crimes of opportunity.
BART police spokeswoman Era Jenkins said in many cases "people get very distracted by their electronic devices and don't pay attention to what's happening" when they travel on BART or get off trains and walk to their cars, homes or workplaces.
Watson said robbers like to steal cell phones because they can be re-sold on the street and are a source of "quick and ready cash."
Watson also said that when people patronize local businesses they shouldn't leave their electronic devices on table where they can quickly be stolen.
Jenkins said the number of robberies of cell phones and electronic devices throughout the BART system increased from 107 in 2010 to 124 in 2011. She said there were 55 such robberies through mid-July of this year, which indicates that the number of robberies has declined only slightly so far this year.