Albany Police warn about recent cell phone thefts - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

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, always 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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