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Cell phone users beware of 'Apple picking'

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - iPhone users need to beware of a new theft trend sweeping the nation. It is called "apple picking".

Having your cell phone snatched from right under your nose is such a common occurrence, it already earned a name. "Apple picking" happens when your attention is diverted and your phone is in your pocket or just inches away.

At iRepear in Bartlett, the term is familiar to owner Matt Prager.

"My brother had his iPhone stolen. Several customers had their iPhones stolen. Two employees had their iPhones stolen," he said. "Hear about it a lot actually."

An extreme case happened a few weeks ago during the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival.

Katherine Jefferson is now locked up on a $40,000 bond.

Police say the victim was actually talking on her phone when Jefferson snatched it out of her hand. She may have chased after except there was another woman standing there with a hand in her purse as if she had a gun, threatening to shoot her if she gave chase.

"It don't shock me around here what they'll do," said Memphian Chris Watkins.

While Memphis Police Department statistics do not classify by brand or officially recognize the term "Apple picking", the data does quantify cell phones stolen.

In 2012, there were 2,044 thefts and 753 robberies. So far in 2013, there have been 781 thefts and 265 robberies.

"There are some steps you can take to prevent it," said Prager, who suggests keeping your phone as close as possible and always paying attention to your surroundings.

He also recommends backing up all the data stored on your phone, just in case your phone does get stolen.

Jefferson will appear in court again in two weeks on an aggravated robbery charge. She does not have a criminal arrest record in Shelby County.

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