Nanaimo RCMP released a photo from surveillance footage of a man suspected of stealing two cellphones from the Bell store in Woodgrove Centre in April.

Nanaimo RCMP released a photo from surveillance footage of a man suspected of stealing two cellphones from the Bell store in Woodgrove Centre in April.

Thieves targeting victims for cell phones

NANAIMO – Thefts and muggings for cell phones on the rise and the situation is getting worse, say police.

Police in Nanaimo say cellphones are fast becoming the hot item on criminals’ most wanted lists.

Since January 1 there have been 122 reported incidents of phones stolen during break and enters or thefts in public places. Of those, seven phones were stolen during robberies.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said police receive weekly reports of phones stolen from lockers, change rooms, cars and at parties.

“We estimate the figure is at least 25 per cent higher than what is reported,” O’Brien said.

Stolen phones are often sold to drug dealers in exchange for drugs, are used by criminals for personal calls until they are cut off by the service provider, sold online or have their SIM cards removed, so they can be reactivated by service providers.

The reported thefts of cellphones has been fairly consistent over the past several years, but O’Brien said the frequency of thefts is likely to rise as increasing numbers of cellphones are sold. Most phones are stolen when left unattended, but there have been cases where thieves have followed their intended targets, waiting for an opportunity to snatch a phone while victims are preoccupied texting or searching data.

“Criminals are often stalking kids on their phones and they’re looking for that opportunity to take the phone,” O’Brien said. “The kids don’t even know who’s around them in their environment. They’ll put the phone down for a second and, boom, it’s gone.”

Sometimes violence is used to snatch the device. In April, Jordan Sunnus, 16, was struck in the face and knocked to the ground when a man tried to take his cellphone. Sunnus applied karate and Brazilian jiu jitsu techniques that thwarted his attacker, but police suggest not putting up a fight during a robbery, since a culprit could prove to be unpredictable and dangerous. Instead hand the phone over, make note of the suspect’s description and report the incident to the police as soon as possible.

There are ways to help prevent your phone from being stolen. Police recommend the following:

– Never leave your phone unattended.

– Look up from time to time and survey your surroundings when texting or surfing.

– Have an action plan. If you think you’re being followed be prepared to remove yourself from the situation.

– Have an app installed that tracks your phone if it is lost or stolen. The sooner it is located the better the chance of retrieving it.

Your phone should also be set to lock out after a set period of time. Having an app installed that will remotely lock the phone and remove data is also useful.

Nanaimo Mounties are also asking for the public’s help to find a man who allegedly stole two smart phones from the Bell Store in Woodgrove Centre April 19.

The suspect was caught on security camera taking a BlackBerry Z10 and Apple iPhone 4S then leaving the store.

The suspect is believed to be aboriginal in his early to mid-20s. He has short dark hair and was wearing blue jeans and a dark hoodie with a small logo on the front.

Anyone with information about this suspect, please call Const. Joe Furtmann of the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestop

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read