Robbers trick victims into handing over their smartphones

Police say technique part of crime trend called 'Apple picking'


ORLANDO, Fla. – Shaniece Warner was talking to a friend on her cellphone as she waited at a bus stop, when she says a group of teens approached, asking to use her phone.

"One of them asked me, can they use my phone to call their mom and tell their mom they were going to be late coming home," said Warner. "I told them, 'Yes, give me a minute.'"

Moments later, one of the teens punched Warner in the face and knocked her to the ground as the others grabbed her Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone and purse, according to police.

When a passing motorist saw the commotion and began honking her horn, the teens ran away, said Warner.

Police said this technique of stealing cellphones is part of a growing crime trend called "Apple picking," in which thieves target victims to snatch their Apple and other brands of smartphones, which are later resold.

"When it happened to me, I figured they had done something like this before," said Warner. "It was like they planned it out."

Orlando police quickly located and arrested a 16 year old who Warner later identified as one of her attackers. Her phone still has not been located.

"I wasn't expecting this to happen to me," said Warner, who now recommends politely declining requests from strangers asking to borrow cellphones. "Probably just say no and be careful," she advises.