Albany Police warn about recent cell phone thefts

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ALBANY, N.Y. – Albany Police are warning about doing business on social websites after a 19-year-old is
accused of luring a man to Central Avenue and attempting to forcibly steal
property from him.

According to Albany Police, on
November 25 around 11 p.m., officers responded to a report of a robbery on
Central and Lexington Avenues.

As police arrived, the victim told
officers that he was waiting at the intersection to sell a cell phone he had
posted to Facebook. The person who expressed interest in purchasing the cell
phone agreed to meet in the area.

The 20-year-old male victim then
said that the interested buyer approached him, struck him in the face and
demanded money. According to the victim's report, the suspect unsuccessfully
tried to steal money from his pocket before fleeing the scene.

Albany Police located Ali Thomas,
19, near the scene of the crime. He was identified as the suspect, according to
police. Thomas was taken into custody without incident.

Thomas was charged with Attempted
Robbery in the 2nd Degree, was arraigned in Albany Criminal Court
and remanded to County Jail.

According to Albany Police, this
is the second incident to take place within a week in which victims were lured
to a location to sell a cell phone.

They say that on Friday, November
22nd, around 7:45 p.m., officers responded to Lark Street and
Sheridan Avenue for a report of a robbery. As they arrived the victim told them
he posted an ad to Facebook, attempting to sell his cell phone.

As the victim met with the
interested buyer, the suspect took the phone, displayed what may have been a
handgun and fled the scene.

The suspect is described as a
black male, 6' tall, and about 25-years-old. Anyone with information is asked
to call the Albany Police Detective Division at (518) 462-8039

Police
are also reminding people to stay safe when buying or selling things on
Facebook, Craigslist, and other websites. 

They say it is a red flag if you check the buyer/seller's profile after the
meeting arrangements have been made or if 
the buyer/seller suddenly changes the
meeting place that was originally agreed upon.

Police also suggest you always meet the buyer or seller in a public place
where there are plenty of people and never agree to meet on a side street or a
place that is not well lit. Also, a
lways take someone with you to the meeting
place and let the buyer or seller know your plans. However, if you decide to go alone,
advise someone of your location and return time prior to the meeting taking
place.

Albany Police
whave also provided the following safety tips in regards to cell phones:

  • Never walk and text with your head down and
    always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Use your cell phone security lock.
  • Avoid becoming distracted by your cell phone
    conversation when walking on the street.
  • Keep your cell phone out of sight. Don't hang
    it from your purse of jacket.
  • Switch the ringer off to avoid attracting the
    attention of thieves.
  • Never loan your cell phone to a stranger. In
    case of an emergency, offer to make the call for them.
  • Don't give your phone to a stranger in order
    to take a picture.

iPhone's and Androids have apps that can be downloaded to increase security on your cell phone. The apps are called “Find My iPhone”, “Where's My Droid”, and “Plan B”.

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