Grab-and-run cell phone thieves target Balboa Park BART Station

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Having your face locked onto your cell phone screen, oblivious to the world around you, is not a good look at the Balboa Park BART Station in San Francisco. 

This is the location where there were 118-crimes involving electronic devices in 2019. 

That is the highest number of all BART stations.

“There’s a lot of students going through that station. A lot of them have their cellphones out. Looking at their cellphones but then there’s a lot of people around that station. If you’re a suspect it is easy to get lost in a crowd after you snatch a phone,” Deputy Chief Lance Haight said. 

BART police say where you sit or stand on the train makes a big difference in making yourself less of a target for thieves.

“The most vulnerable spot? The thieves know right when the train doors open at a platform, if the snatch the phone and runoff, the train doors close, you’re stuck. So they need to be most aware on platforms on trains when the doors are open,” Haight said. 

Some BART passengers are surprised to learn this is the number one station for grab-and-run thefts.

“Because I frequent this station every day. I’ve never seen anything happen here,” Karen Hamp said. 

Other BART passengers say they have seen some things here that make them feel uncomfortable.

“There’s always a little suspect activity around here,” Tavonte Drakeford said. 

Police say it is good for folks to remember that they are holding more than just a cellphone in their hands.

They are actually holding something very valuable on the Black Market.

“A brand new iPhone if it is unlocked you can get up to $400 for it,” Haight said. 

BART officers are now patrolling on trains. 

They will soon be joined by unarmed ambassadors to increase police presence throughout the transit system.

“Absolutely! Uniformed presence on the train is a deterrent to crime,” Haight said.

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