Metro cell phone theft: How to keep yourself from being a victim

How can you keep yourself from being a victim of theft?

According to Metro crime statistics, robberies in the Metro system, including on trains, buses, in stations and at bus stops, have gone up by over 150 percent since 2006.

However, the number of what Metro calls "robbery snatches," most of which pertain to electronic devices, are down year to date by 24 percent. Police, though, still report that there have been 259 of these incidents so far in 2011.

Electronics are the overwhelming majority of targets in robberies on Metro. In 2010 alone, 76 percent of robberies on Metro were related to electronics.

Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Ron Pavlik says that it's pivotal to pay attention to your surroundings while using electronics in the system.

Have you ever had your smartphone or another gadget stolen from you? Tell us where the robbery occurred in the comments.

"You are ingrained to what you're doing, so you're not paying attention to your surroundings," Pavlik says.

The thefts still go on at a rapid rate. Theft is a problem everywhere you go, and robberies of small electronics and cell phones on Metro and around the Washington area is a concern that authorities, WMATA and Metro Transit Police all continue to combat.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says that the rate of these thefts is partially due to cell phones being a hot commodity and people being on them in public, which makes them vulnerable to crime.

To help you prevent yourself from being a victim of crime, we're providing these simple tips you can use to keep yourself from having your personal belongings snatched.

-Use the 'Find my iPhone" app. Activate and use the free app that tracks where your iPhone is. It'll be useful in case your phone does get snatched so that you may be able to give authorities a location to where the phone is.

-Travel in groups when possible. This is especially important late at night.

-Stand near other groups of people on platforms, at bus stops and on trains. Metro also suggests not riding in train cars that are completely empty.

-Always be alert of your surroundings.

-Be extra cautious while using earphones or headphones on trains and buses. Not only are they giveaways that you are using electronics, but you may not be always able to hear a potential thief come close to you.

-Carry your electronic devices in pockets or bags/purses. Keep them completely out of reach of potential theieves.

-Don't hold your device in your hands while sitting or standing next to a train door. Many thefts are thefts of opportunity. These situations give a robber a chance to snatch your belongings and run off the train.

-Report suspicious activity to Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121.

For more information on crime prevention, check out the websites tor Metro Transit Police and D.C. Police.

Have you ever had your smartphone or another gadget stolen from you? Tell us where the robbery occurred in the comments.