Apple picking: People walking while talking on iPhone getting smartphones snagged from hands

CLEVELAND - A new crime called "Apple picking" targets iPhone users walking while talking in cities and college campuses around the country, including Cleveland.

Cleveland police say thieves often snatch a smartphone right out of the hand of the user who is talking on the device while walking in a city or college campus.

"My one friend actually had it taken last week, left it on a desk and it's gone," said Peter Tront, a sophomore at Cleveland State University.

Police departments said "Apple picking" is not a big problem in northeast Ohio, yet. While the crime is happening, some departments haven't even heard of "Apple picking."

But the term -- and crime -- is not new to Cleveland State University's Joe Mosbrook, who says college campuses are a target-rich environment because many students have smartphones.

"There were probably four or five we had reports of being stolen that could be out of somebody's hand or sitting on a table in a building," said Mosbrook. No one has been hurt and CSU has been informing students of incidents immediately.

Mosbrook advised students should be alert when walking, reminding students that CSU also offers escorts.

"We work all over the country in a variety of areas, but stealing phones, people's identity is a widespread thing," said David Sems, owner of Sems + Associates, a company that does forensic investigations on phones and computers. He said the thieves are after personal information and the physical phone.

Experts said stolen phones can sell for up to $1,000. There are free or inexpensive services and products that can help if your phone is stolen. For more information, visit

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