Orange Co. Sheriff's Office warns of violent cell phone thefts

Attorney General: 113 iPhones, Androids stolen per minute in U.S.


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County Sheriff's Office is sending out an alert about violent cell phone thefts. In a new public service announcement posted on Facebook and YouTube, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says over one-third of all thefts now involve cell phones.

Elizabeth Vogel says she was just steps from her front door in Orlando's Azalea Park neighborhood when she was robbed at gunpoint. The mother of two had been out for a jog when she found herself staring down the barrel of gun.

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"A car stopped, a guy jumped out and pulled a gun out," said Vogel. "I froze."

Vogel says the man then reached into her pocket, grabbed her phone and took off.

"I had headphones in so he must have guessed I had something I was listening to," said Vogel.

Vogel says she had just purchased the new Android phone and had yet to set up it's GPS tracking or security alarm.

In the public service announcement, the sheriff's office is encouraging people to keep their phones hidden, be aware of their surroundings and report thefts immediately.

The violent crime trend is sometimes called "apple picking," referring to thieves stealing popular Apple iPhones from unsuspecting victims.

New figures from New York's Attorney General show 113 iPhones and Android phones are stolen or lost every minute in the U.S.

Vogel has since replaced her phone, but isn't convinced that keeping it hidden will keep her safe.

"I don't even know if that would help because sometimes (thieves) will still try because most people always have phones," Vogel said.

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Vogel says, unfortunately, she was robbed in a dark area and did not get a good look at the light colored sedan the thief was riding in. He was also wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and she could not provide a clear suspect description to investigators.

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