Suspect steals cell phones from good samaritans
Edmonton Police are warning citizens to be very cautious when loaning their cell phones to strangers after multiple reports of a so-called “man in need” running away with the phones he “borrowed” from good samaritans.
Police believe the man approaches his victims and asks to use their cell phone to call a tow truck because his car has broken down. Once the man has the phone, he steps away to get some privacy and then just takes off with the phone. People who have chased him are allegedly threatened with violence.
Sometimes, the man will tell his prey that his phone does not work and needs to use another one, or offers collateral to hold on to while he makes a call.
Seven incidents have been reported over the last week in northeast Edmonton, near transit stations or bus stops. The thefts have occurred in Dunluce, Eaux Claires, Evansdale, Northgate and Rosslyn. The suspect will take any kind of phone, be it cell phone or smart phone.
“Typically in personal robberies cell phones are stolen about 25 per cent of the time, but this is unique, it’s only the cell phone the thief is interested in,” says Const. Cathy Ruskin, with EPS Northeast Division. “Unfortunately, this man is taking advantage of the kindness of strangers. We don’t want people to harden their hearts, or not look out for one another, but be cautious. If you are approached by a stranger who wants to use your phone, make the call yourself, or encourage them to use a complimentary phone at a nearby business. If it seems suspicious, it’s safer not to comply.”
The suspect is described as a Caucasian man in his 20’s or early 30’s. He is about 6′ tall with a slim build and is unshaven and unkept. He was wearing dark, dirty, well-worn clothing with dark running shoes and has been seen wearing a hoodie or baseball cap.
Anyone with information that will help identify the suspect, or assist with the investigation, is asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com.