WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr


Cell Phone Robberies On The Rise At Charleston Town Center Mall

Reported by: Send eMail Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett/Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Dec. 4, 2013 4:46 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 4, 2013 6:39 PM EST

EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

Cell Phone Thefts
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

In our tech savvy times, thieves are thriving from what is being dubbed the modern day purse snatching.

If you own a smartphone, you are a potential victim.

Just in the last three days, there have been three reports of cell phone robberies at the Charleston Town Center. As the overall numbers continue to climb, police are calling the trend a full-blown epidemic.

You probably have seen the videos of thieves swiping phones in the blink of an eye. It's a lucrative business of stealing and then selling your cell phone. They are brazen incidents that are part of a crime wave striking coast to coast.

"It used to be you show a weapon, or point a weapon, and demand someone's wallet or their purse," Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston Police Department said. "Now they're demanding cell phones."

Law enforcement are sounding the alarm on the cell phone theft epidemic, and it has some paying close attention to their surroundings.

"It's right there," Maureen Taylor said as she discreetly showed Eyewitness News where she keeps her phone when she is out and about.

"I really don't use it out on the street. If someone calls, I'll call them back when I'm not on the street," she said.

Police said she has the right idea, as thieves are constantly scanning the streets for easy victims.

"It's a kin to lying $200-$300 cash nearby and not paying attention to it," Cooper said.

Three people have fallen victim at Charleston Town Center since the beginning of the week.

On Monday, Michelle Garman was traveling from Indiana when she stopped at Starbucks in the mall to pass some time before catching a bus. Little did she know, she was an easy victim.

"My phone was sitting like 6 inches from my tablet, so I wasn't worried about it and I had sat there like all day, so I wasn't worried," she said.

Police said they arrested a 17-year-old for stealing the phone as she was sitting at a table.

They were able to track him down after he contacted a friend in her phone list, trying to get the friend to wire her money. The friend didn't fall for it, and tipped off police. They said he was arrested as he went to pick up the money order he thought was coming his way.

"I never imagined Charleston, W.Va., to be a place I had to worry about," she said.

Charleston police said there have been 207 cell phone thefts reported in 2013. The number is on track to surpass last year's total.

Taylor said the rash of thefts "makes me more cautious."

Until the profit is taken out of cell phone theft, people like Taylor are forced to find ways to protect themselves and not become another statistic.

On Tuesday night, Charleston police say a woman was sitting on a bench on the second floor of the mall when a man walked up to her, grabbed her arm, and snatched the phone out of her hands while she was talking on it. That suspect, only described as a black man wearing a hoodie, has not been caught.



MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
New Law Brings Policing Effort To Chemical Storage Tanks
News
Apr. 24, 2014 11:42 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - New legislation ...
Full News Story and Video

Injury Puts Pilot Program At Risk At Kanawha School Board Meeting
News
Apr. 24, 2014 11:45 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Sean Delancey) -- A four-year-old ...
Full News Story and Video

Police Raid Charleston Bar
News
Apr. 24, 2014 11:01 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Rick Lord) -- Charleston police ...
Full News Story and Video


News Family Seeks To Improve West Side
Apr. 24, 2014 11:01 PM EDT
News Dispatchers Say Person Shot In Dunbar
Apr. 24, 2014 11:32 PM EDT
News WV To Receive $5.6 Million From Federal Government For Laid-Off Miners
Apr. 24, 2014 9:33 PM EDT
News WV Tourism Commissioner Retiring After 37-Year Career
Apr. 24, 2014 9:30 PM EDT
News Conservative PAC Endorses Mooney In U.S. House Race
Apr. 24, 2014 9:00 PM EDT
News Wayne County Special Olympics Canceled Due To Storm Forecast
Apr. 24, 2014 9:21 PM EDT
News Chemical Safety Board Examining Inside Of Freedom Industries Tank
Apr. 24, 2014 11:05 PM EDT
News Some See Correlation Between Dropout, Crime Rates
Apr. 24, 2014 11:02 PM EDT
News MU Students Donate To Locks Of Love
Apr. 24, 2014 7:25 PM EDT
News Charleston Police Say Young Man Shot Wednesday Night On West Side Has Died
Apr. 24, 2014 6:45 PM EDT
News YMCA Hosting Healthy Kids Day
Apr. 24, 2014 6:46 PM EDT
News Graffiti Painted on Huntington Murder Victim's Residence
Apr. 24, 2014 6:41 PM EDT
News Circus Arrives In Town
Apr. 24, 2014 6:45 PM EDT
News 3 Judges Deciding Mayor's Fate
Apr. 24, 2014 5:51 PM EDT
News Ashland School Ordered To Shelter in Place
Apr. 24, 2014 5:02 PM EDT
News Putnam County Man Facing Charges Following Police Pursuit On An ATV
Apr. 24, 2014 4:23 PM EDT
News Major Oil And Gas Firm To List Drilling Chemicals
Apr. 24, 2014 4:05 PM EDT
News Tomblin Sets Up STEM Council
Apr. 24, 2014 4:03 PM EDT
News Construction Worker Killed During Bridge Work In Lawrence County, Ohio
Apr. 24, 2014 4:22 PM EDT
News New Marshall University Basketball Coach Dan D'Antoni Has Deep Ties To School
Apr. 24, 2014 11:02 PM EDT
News Charleston Swears In Six New Police Officers
Apr. 24, 2014 2:29 PM EDT
News New River Gorge National River Fire 90 Percent Contained
Apr. 24, 2014 1:41 PM EDT
News LimeLight Theatre Company Presents "The Three Musketeers"
Apr. 24, 2014 12:52 PM EDT
News Court Documents Say Police Chase, K-9 Unit Led Police To West Side Murder Suspects
Apr. 24, 2014 1:34 PM EDT
News Special Kanawha County Prosecutors Sworn In To Handle Cases
Apr. 24, 2014 1:35 PM EDT
News Fayette County Man To Spend Three Years In Prison For Burning Cats
Apr. 24, 2014 9:57 AM EDT
News Judge Bars Plants And Office From Handling Certain Domestic Violence Cases
Apr. 23, 2014 6:51 PM EDT
News Mullens Girls Gather Donations For Charleston Orphanage
Apr. 23, 2014 11:18 PM EDT
News Potential Layoff Notices Worry Miners In Boone County
Apr. 23, 2014 6:44 PM EDT
News 85th Habitat Home Dedicated In Cabell County
Apr. 23, 2014 6:34 PM EDT


Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
W.Va. tourism commissioner retiring

West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Betty Carver is retiring after a 37-year career working for the state.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Grimes criticizes McConnell over jobs comment

A local newspaper story that quoted Mitch McConnell as saying it is "not my job" to bring employment to a struggling Kentucky County has unleashed yet another round of feuding in one of the country's most competitive Senate races.
Full Story

Ohio News
Youngstown State to interview Tressel for top job

Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is among six candidates being interviewed for the president's job at Youngstown State University, where he used to coach.
Full Story

PREVIOUS NEWS: NOV | CURRENT







Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site







Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.