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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Flashy earphones an invitation to thieves

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

16:12, January 18, 2012

BEIJING - Notice those bright white iPhone earphones?

Thieves do too.

"I was just talking with one of my friends on a call, but there was no voice in the earphones all of a sudden," said Tang Yu. "I didn't think much of it at that time. I thought the call was off or the signal was bad."

The 24-year-old was holding a bag in her hands chatting with a friend as she crossed Dawanglu Road in Beijing on Jan 9.

However, when she tried calling the friend again, she found the earphone was out of her coat pocket and realized her iPhone4 had been stolen.

"I looked around immediately, but no one was standing close to me," said the law firm employee.

Tang's experience is not unique.

Wei, a company manager who refused to give his full name, said his iPhone was stolen when he went upstairs in a supermarket in Chaoyang district on Jan 8.

"I put my phone into my overcoat pocket. But after the escalator arrived at the second floor, my phone was gone," the 33-year-old said.

"When I reported it to the security guards in the market, I was told three other customers' phones were also stolen at the same time when we were on the escalator," he added.

Police officer Ning Tongtong told China Daily on Tuesday that iPhones have been a main target for thieves since last year.

"Residents must pay more attention to their phones when in subway stations, bus stations, when swiping cards and using elevators, otherwise your iPhones may get stolen," Ning said.

Thieves often work in groups of two or three, watching those who use the iPhone earphones and then "cooperate" when the target gets off subways or buses, she added.

Since January, more than 1,000 micro-bloggers on Sina weibo have said their iPhones were stolen.

Many of them also mentioned their relatives or friends had the same experience.

Although the police have dispatched more plainclothes officers to bus stations, railway stations and subways, Ning said it is still hard for them to capture thieves.

"The thieves have no fixed places where they steal and we can't follow all of them day and night, even though we have monitors," she said.

The stolen iPhones are sold to secondhand markets at lower prices, but such trades are always done privately, which is not easy for police to track, according to Ning.

Luo Jian, a police officer in Fengtai district, said winter is the high season for losing phones and young women are the main target.

"The decoration on their mobile phones provide easy access to thieves, while our thick clothes also make us unaware when phones are being stolen," he said.

Luo reminded residents to keep their eyes on phones when using public transport and not to use earphones, he added.

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