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Youth assaulted in iPhone robbery

GROSSE POINTE PARK — A local youth was the latest victim of a crime some law enforcement officials are now calling “Apple picking.”

A 13-year-old boy was the victim of an unarmed robbery around 4:08 p.m. Oct. 14, when police said the three male suspects — ages 14, 15 and 16, all from Detroit — approached the victim in the area of Kercheval and Buckingham and demanded the victim’s iPhone 4. A police report indicated that one of the suspects punched the victim in the head, and the suspects then allegedly snatched the phone from the victim and fled the scene.

Police responded quickly and were able to apprehend the three suspects and recover the stolen cellphone. In a prepared statement, Park Public Safety Chief David Hiller praised what he called the “excellent work by all officers involved.” After their arrest, police said the suspects were sent to the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility. They could be facing charges including unarmed robbery, police said. It was not known at press time whether the teens would be charged as juveniles or as adults.

Fortunately, “no injuries (were) sustained” by the young victim, said Park Public Safety Captain David Loch via email.

The popularity and high price tag on iPhones has made these devices hot commodities among crooks, some of whom have taken to stealing them out of the hands of users as they chat or text while walking down the street.

This is a national trend. According to an April 2012 news release from the Federal Communications Commission, more than 40 percent of robberies in New York City involve smartphones like the iPhone and other types of cellphones. In other major cities, the FCC reported that cellphones are stolen in 30-40 percent of all cases.

To keep from being a victim of one of these crimes, the FCC recommends that cellphone users be aware of their surroundings when using these phones, not leave their phones unattended in a public place or out in the open in an unattended vehicle, and keep a record of the phone’s make, model number, serial number and device identification number — called either the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) or the Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) number — to help police identify the phone if it’s lost or stolen.

To protect personal information that might be on the phone, the FCC says users should create a password to restrict access to the phone, and “install and maintain anti-theft software on the device.”