4 January 2023

Tony says to keep an eye on your phone after someone swiped his

| Chris Roe
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Man having coffee

Tony had his iPhone swiped off the table as he ducked back into the cafe. Photo: Adam Drummond.

Tony was settling in for his morning coffee at Le Brooks Cafe in Wagga’s Australian Arcade when a passerby stole his newly acquired second-hand iPhone.

“I had my coffee and my paper on the table and I went inside for something and a fellow came through the back,” the retired aged care worker explained.

“If you’re light-fingered, it was too good an opportunity and he picked up my phone, which was sitting on the table, and off he went.”

READ ALSO Man in hospital after ‘targeted’ shooting in Deniliquin

The thief was captured on CCTV wandering casually through the arcade and swiping the phone before crossing the road to the courthouse, where he remained for about 45 minutes.

While Tony says the police were helpful, they have not yet managed to recover his device.

An appeal for the public’s help remains active with CCTV images showing a solidly built man of caucasian appearance wearing an orange t-shirt, pink and blue shorts, a backwards baseball cap and a backpack.

Man stealing phone

If you recognise the man in orange, please contact Wagga Wagga Police on 6922 2599 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Photo: Riverina Police.

Tony had only just upgraded from an old flip phone and had not yet activated the ”find my phone” function. He is now forced to borrow a device when he wants to make a call and hoped the thief was unhappy with the second-hand iPhone.

“When he discovered the phone he stole was an old one, he would have been very disappointed.”

READ ALSO 19 charged from operation targeting shoplifting

Riverina police maintain that the city’s crime rate remains relatively low, with ”crimes of opportunity” the biggest concern during the holidays as stores are closed and homes are left vacant.

While recorded crimes in the Riverina have seen an overall decline in the past five years, break-and-enter numbers have spiked in recent months. The latest data indicates 191 offences in August and September.

The same can be said for motor vehicle theft with a 63.8 per cent spike in the number of cars stolen in the past year and a 43 per cent rise in the number of incidents of items being stolen from cars.

A recent operation targeting shoplifting in Wagga saw 19 people apprehended after allegedly stealing items from stores in early December.

Man being served at cafe

Tony says next time “I will keep it in my pocket!” Photo: Adam Drummond.

Speaking to Region last year, Riverina Police District commander Superintendent Andrew Spliet reminded locals not to leave their houses and car doors unlocked and to keep an eye out for their neighbours.

“We are asking the community, if you see anything suspicious, please contact us,” he said.

“We are continuing operations that are targeting areas and we are activating high-visibility policing and covert surveillance and always running operations to put a lid on the offences that are occurring in the district.”

When it comes to situations like Tony’s, police agree that it is important not to leave handbags, wallets or phones unattended or unsecured in public locations.

Activating ‘find my phone’ or ”find my mobile’ on devices is advised and other tracking options are available, like ‘AirTags’ or ‘Tiles’, which can be attached to bags, keys and even kids to help you find them.

But as Tony contemplates acquiring a new phone, he’s decided to keep it old school next time.

“Well, I will keep it in my pocket!” he declared.

If you see anything suspicious, you can call the relevant authorities through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or if an emergency occurs, call triple zero (000).

You can see the latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics for the Riverina here.

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