In perhaps the most bizarre yet comical case of theft and recovery we’ve seen in a while, City Supervisor of San Francisco, Scott Wiener, was robbed of his iPhone as he walked to one of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations by his home.
Stopping at a red light along the way, the politician reportedly removed the iPhone from his pocket to check the calendar, just when a woman who was sandwiched between two other men standing right beside him snatched the iPhone out of his bare hands.
Wiener reportedly insisted that the woman give him his phone back, and she even agreed to do so — but only in return for cash. The woman, who was accompanied by the two other men, initially asked for $500. However the group, after some amount of push and shove, eventually agreed upon $200.
Now this is where the story gets interesting: Wiener reportedly walked with the gang of thugs to a nearby ATM machine, and asked them to stand beside him as he withdrew the money — right in front of the camera that takes surveillance photos.
Wiener apparently refused to hand over the cash until the phone was in his hands, however the mugger wouldn’t do so until she had the cash. Oi vey! Ultimately, the parties relied on an innocent bystander to oversee and ensure the swap. Perhaps unsurprisingly, after both Wiener and the group went their separate ways, he immediately called the police and the woman was arrested. Poof! Just like that! The other two men, however, still remain at large.
Smartphone theft, even despite this crime, has declined roughly 22%, year-over-year, according to San Francisco district attorney George Gascon. A new law was passed just this February in California requires all phones sold within state lines to include a kill switch.
You might now be wondering, “But why did it take so long to get a kill switch installed on smartphones in the first place?” And that’s because smartphone thefts just so happen to be a rather lucrative business for carriers and manufacturers, alike. According to a 2012 report by mobile security firm Lookout, of the $69 billion in smartphone sales that year, approximately $30 billion of them resulted from people trying to replace their lost or stolen devices.
I suppose the moral of the story here is, as easy as it is to be distracted while looking down at your phone, your best bet is probably to just keep it in your pocket until you’ve arrived at a location where you feel it is safe to bring it out and play.