MADISON, Wis. - In this day and age, most people are guilty at least some of the time of paying too much attention to their smartphones and not enough attention to their immediate surroundings.
The Madison Police Department is saying that could be contributing to certain people becoming the target for some serious crimes around the UW campus.
A recent round of robberies has police reminding people to pay attention while using their smartphones on the go.
Criminals are stealing the ubiquitous gadgets – sometimes at gunpoint – and selling them for easy cash.
Apple's iPhones are the preferred bounty for these tech takeaways, but police say that no matter what you're texting, tweeting, surfing, or chatting on, it could be making you a prime target for thieves.
On a Badger football Saturday, Lathrop Street seems to be lined only with cardinal and white fans, not with criminals and felons.
But you barely have to walk a block before losing count of the those passing the time with screen time.
And what some see as college students simply communicating, an increasing amount of others are seeing as a chance to make a quick buck off of stolen phones.
"My roommate the other night had his laptop, iPhone, iPod, and Xbox all stolen," said UW student Zac Krause. "Same night, somebody came in, ripped the screen, came in through the window."
"You're just trying to get to where you're going or like text the person and find out where they are, so you always have your phone out all of the time," said UW student Erica Peterson. "It's scary that someone would just pop out of nowhere and grab it from you."
But that's exactly what happened to an 18-year-old female near Lathrop and Chadbourne just before 2 a.m. late Friday night.
A man walked up to her, threatened her with a handgun, and took off with her purse and iPhone.
Lt. Dave McCaw with the Madison Police Department says the price is right for these criminals to sell stolen phones for good money.
McCaw suggests making sure your technology can be tracked and that you have the ability to shut it down if it were stolen.
And with the threat of losing what most of us now feel we can't live without, police remind smartphone users to stay alert of more than just what's popping up on your screen.
For anyone who may find themselves the victim of a robbery, Lt. McCaw says do not be a hero. If threatened, simply give the perpetrator what they want and then call the police as soon as possible.
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