By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – The smartphone is a vital accessory for a lot of people, but when you’re talking hands-free or listening to music, those tell-tale white earbuds let criminals know you’ve probably got a pricey Apple product on you.

Authorities have started calling the phenomenon “Apple picking.”

It goes like this: a criminal sneaks up behind a victim, who is almost always a woman. She is usually walking alone and distracted on her phone.

In an instant, she’s robbed, and sometimes worse.

“They see a very expensive piece of technology and they’re going to grab it from you,” explains Jack Albert, Deputy Superintendent at the Cambridge Police Department, which has seen at least eight of these robberies since March. “In several instances the victim was seriously injured enough to be hospitalized.”

Apple devices are the most targeted, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe if you have something else. Any stolen smartphone can be re-sold for hundreds of dollars, and if the victim doesn’t see the attacker coming, the whole attack can be over in seconds.

Cambridge Police checked around and discovered that officers in Brookline and Boston have been having the same problem lately. So the departments are teaming up.

“The common denominator has been women walking alone at night on smartphones, listening to their earphones, listening to music, talking. Whatever they’re doing with it, they make themselves a target,” says Albert. “So now we have a very simple message: don’t advertise the fact that you have a smartphone. Hide it, put it in your pocket.”


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