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Recent string of muggings in Madison targeting smart phones

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Tuesday, July 23--- 5:30 p.m.

Over the past two weeks, there have been at least five muggings targeting smart phones, leaving some people injured.

"These crimes take place in a matter of seconds," said Madison Police Department's PIO, Joel DeSpain. "They're not even trying to get other items from the victims... They grab it quickly. They take the person down. Sometimes people are being struck.

UW athlete Tanner McEvoy's iPhone was stolen after being beaten on Wisconsin Avenue and East Dayton Street. A 42-year-old woman was hit in the head on a porch on Langdon for her phone. A phone was even snatched from a 10-year-old boy right in the middle of the day.

"Those who are having these crimes perpetrated are vast array of people in the city," said DeSpain.

Having these phones visible advertises their worth.

"Consider this like cash," said DeSpain. "You wouldn't walk down the street with $600 holding it out there... There's a lucrative second hand market for these smart phones.

Where you think your smart phone is safe could be exactly where thieves are looking.

"I like to have it in my hand," said Madison student, Laura Shea.

"They're targeting people who are on their smart phones," said DeSpain. "The person whose perpetrating the crime is often with someone else who's in a car they jump back in the car and off they go."

Several arrests have been made, but many of the recent criminals remain at large.

It's become such a problem that it spurred the police department to hold a meeting Tuesday afternoon about these crimes.

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