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Stamford Police Warn iPhone Owners Of Increased ‘Apple Picking’

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Person using iPhone (file/Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Police in Stamford warn iPhone owners of an increase of thefts known as “Apple Picking.”

Officials said teenagers wearing hoodies and riding bicycles ride up to women talking on their smartphones on the streets of Stamford and snatch the device right out of their hands.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports

“Since the phone is in use, they can get right into the factory settings and reset the whole phone right away. So therefore, that disables all GPS tracking that we usually use to track these phones. So it disables the tracking device and therefore they go off to the black market and sell these things on the black market,” Stamford Police Lieutenant Diedrich Hohn told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Police said the young “Apple Pickers” reset the phones before the victims can report the theft.

“And then sell it to pretty much someone who has no idea this phone was stolen or they knew it was stolen and they pretty much have a brand new phone,” Hohn said.

Stolen iPhones can go for as much as $200 each on the black market, Schneidau reported.

Officials urge iPhone owners to be aware of their surroundings and keep their devices tucked out of sight.

In October, the NYPD said smartphone theft hit an all-time high.

“Our crime statistics have gone up almost four percent this year,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at the time. “If in fact there were no thefts of Apple products we actually have a decrease this year.”

Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, theft of Apple products in New York City has nearly tripled, CBS 2 reported.

Officials have been trying to come up with ways to prevent future thefts.

Even if victims deactivate their phones they can easily be reprogrammed with a new SIM card and then resold. Kelly has suggested phone carriers disconnect the devices.

“Make it a useless piece of junk if it’s stolen,” Kelly said.

What precautions do you take to avoid becoming an “Apple Picking” victim? Share your comments below…