Trouble on the T - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Trouble on the T

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BOSTON (WHDH) - In the blink of an eye, in broad daylight, in a crowd and on the T, thieves target high priced iPhones knowing they can sell them on the black market. But now, the Transit Police is targeting the thieves in a new undercover operation and we went along for an exclusive look.

7News was there when police captured one suspected iPhone thief.  

Our undercover cameras followed the plain clothes transit police team into a T station.  

The decoy officer acts confused and puts a computer bag and iPhone down on a seat, he looks down the platform waiting for the train, appearing to be oblivious to what's going on around him.

“Usually they’ll wait to make their move until the train comes in. The train will unload, all kinds of people off the train, they’re walking on the platform it’s very distracting,” a plain clothes officer said.

Minutes later as a train pulls in a man walking by grabs the entire bag and gets on the train. We got on too, and watched him take the phone out of the bag and put it in his pants pocket.

“We’re not doing anything secret, we want people to know that we have plain clothes officers on the platform,” an officer said.

Despite the clearly visible surveillance cameras in the station, police say brazen cell phone thieves have no idea they are being watched and will pocket the decoy iPhone every time.

“These people will take it, slide into sleeve, they’ll take and drop it inside the jacket and quickly walk away,” the plain clothes officer said.

Fifteen minutes after the first arrest, the team got another one.  

“You turn your back for a second and your phone is gone. Lost in the crowd you don’t know who has your phone,” the plain clothes officer said.

In this case officers made sure the man wasn't planning to turn the bag in; they waited until he got to the exit before grabbing him.

In addition to the phone and computer, police found individually packaged ounces of marijuana, a scale and a ledger showing money owed by clients on the first man they arrested.

“A lot of people think it's young people that do these kind of larcenies and robberies, we're finding older people that have experienced with criminal justice system. We've had them as young as 23 and as old as 59,” an officer said.

Police advise passengers to be aware of your surroundings, they also say if you’re using a smart phone don’t sit in the seat next to the door.

Police call it the hot seat, when the doors open a thief can grab your phone and be off the train in seconds.
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