Taking out your iPhone to snap an Instagram pic or send a booty text late at night in Miami Beach might not be worth it. Miami Beach Police are warning residents and tourists to be careful with their smartphones after a rash of brazen armed robberies have struck the town.
"It's called Apple picking, where the subjects will look when people are talking on their iPhone or not paying attention, in this case with a firearm, and will take the phone right out of their hand and take off," Miami Beach Police spokesperson Vivian Hernandez tells NBC Miami.
At least four such crimes have occurred this weekend in Miami Beach. Similar crimes have also been reported in Coral Gables and other areas of Miami-Dade as well.
In one case, a woman sitting at a bus stop on Collins Avenue was robbed at gunpoint of her phone, cash, and jewelry. In another, a victim tells WSVN that he was waiting outside a club when he was approached by three men, one of whom had a gun, and robbed of his phone.
Police have nabbed several suspects. Eight men, all between the ages of 18 and 21, have been arrested and face charges of armed robbery. Though the thieves can pocket up to $600 a pop for selling the phones, they could also face at least ten years in jail for committing a crime with a gun in Florida.
Police warn people to be aware of their surroundings when using their phones in public, especially late at night and early in the morning. Smartphone users are also warned to make sure that all security measures, including apps such as Find My iPhone and a lock screen, are enabled on their devices.