BART officials warn riders to be vigilant about their electronics 

BART passengers who listen to their iPods or read books on their Kindles should be aware of potential criminals while traveling on the rail system, as the number of thefts related to electronic devices nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010, according to the transit agency.

In 2009, BART recorded 88 thefts related to devices such as laptops, iPods, BlackBerrys and Kindles. In 2010, that number increased 88 percent to 166 cases.

Most of the crimes are of the “grab-and-dash” variety, where criminals spot unaware passengers engrossed in their various activities. The thieves snatch up the high-value products and flee, usually exiting just as the train doors close, according to BART police Lt. Andy Alkire.

The top four most stolen devices, in order, are smart phones such as BlackBerrys and iPhones, portable music players, laptops and Kindles.

In order to prevent such thefts, BART officials are urging passengers to be vigilant and aware while using their devices, and to avoid taking out the devices altogether when seated next to a door. Passengers should register their electronic wares, keep a detailed description of their equipment and refrain from playing any device too loudly.

Also, if someone asks to borrow your phone, say no.

Despite the fact that thefts of electronic devices on BART are rising, crime on the system is still relatively low. According to agency statistics, there is an average of less than two crimes committed per million passenger trips on the system.

Even with the relatively low occurrence of crime, passengers should always be aware of their surroundings, officials said.

“While overall these crimes are still relatively rare, that doesn’t matter if you’re the one whose iPad is ripped off,” Alkire said. “We don’t want any of our customers to be victims, which is why we want to remind everyone to take simple precautions.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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