Apple picking

On the Beat

When historians look back at the 21st century, they may decide to classify it as the century of the cellphone. Here at Case Western Reserve University it seems almost everyone has one and they can be used for everything from identifying bird calls to ordering pizza. Actually conversing with your fellow humans in more than 140 characters seems to be going the way of calligraphy and Blockbuster video stores, but that is another topic.

As cellphones of whatever brand continued to proliferate, it was inevitable that they would become targets of theft. They are small and easy to snatch. This trend poses a challenge for police officers, especially those trying to give crime prevention tips in a campus newspaper, for instance. Cellphones can be a valuable self-defense tool, enabling a potential victim to contact the police from wherever they are, and letting potential bad guys know you are in contact with law enforcement as you walk down the street, for example.

On the other hand, there have been a number of cellphone snatch robberies here at CWRU in recent years. These are incidents in which someone comes up behind a cellphone user on foot or bicycle, grabs the phone and flees. There have also been a number of straight robberies involving weapons or threat of weapons in which the victim’s phone appears to have been the robber’s target. There is a term that is sometimes used by bad guys to describe these types of theft: apple picking, obviously referring to the popularity of the iPhone.

The best advice is probably somewhere in the middle. Use your phone as an emergency communications tool when needed, but never be so deeply into your phone you are unaware of what’s going on around you if you are outdoors. Look into apps that allow you to track or deactivate your phone if stolen, and know how to contact your phone service provider quickly if you need to cancel a service. Don’t leave phones lying around unattended in outdoor or public settings or they will vanish faster than you might think. Use the phone to call Mom on Sundays, but also keep an eye on it when necessary. Let’s look out for each other.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko and Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. We welcome questions, suggestions and gripes/groans/moans/complaints about campus life at