D.C. police offers rewards for gadget theft info

Several D.C. neighborhoods are on alert after a rash of robberies, particularly in the last 24 hours.

On Tuesday night, dozens asked Police Chief Cathy Lanier for help with these crimes and others, across D.C.

The spike in robberies over the last three months has become an unsettling trend. Thieves targeting technology, going after smartphones, iPads and cameras.

"It's very frustrating," Lanier said. "We don't want to see the victims continue to mount over something as silly a a phone."

Denise Wiktor was just one of two dozen D.C. residents worried about the recent rash of robberies in her Mount Pleasant neighborhood, especially after she became a victim.

"They went through the car with a fine-tooth comb," Wiktor said. "All they took were the chargers."

Adrian Kitt vividly remembers the moment his smart phone was stolen from him last fall. He laid it down, turned his back and then realized it was gone.

For Sholontae Carter, it was a trip on the Metro that ended up costing her $500 phone.

“I was sitting down on the train and it was taken out of my purse, and when I got out of the train I was looking for my purse, and I had to get another one,” says Carter, a Columbia Heights resident.

On Metro alone, there were nearly 300 electronics robberies last year.

In just the last 23 days, there have been 108 arrests for robberies. In the past 24 hours, D.C. police were called for 11 reported robberies.

Smart phones are so popular with thieves, D.C. is announcing an unusual rewards plan to get the robbers off the streets. The program will pay up to $10,000 for tips leading to an arrest and conviction.

Thieves can usually get $300 for a smart phone and D.C. police hope the reward program will be an incentive for people to turn them in.

And until arrests are made, smartphone users are being more protective with their devices.

“I keep it in my pocket,” says Melvin Taylor. “If it rings, hold it real tight.”