Brett Blume

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) –  A stranger comes up to you in a public place — perhaps after noticing you’re not wearing a watch — and asks you what time it is.

Wanting to help, you whip out your smartphone to provide the answer and that’s when the person grabs your phone and takes off running.

You’ve just been “Apple Picked” — so named after the manufacturer of the popular iPhone brand.

“One big concern we have is cell phone theft,” admits Richard Zott, chief of public safety for Metro. “It’s a trend that we see all over the country and it’s here in St. Louis, unfortunately. One out of three robberies involve cell phones now.”

And MetroLink platforms present a tempting target for those looking to pick an “Apple”.

Just last Friday a passenger on a MetroLink train was attacked, his Galaxy Note 3 phone ripped from his hand.

When the victim attempted to grab the thief around the waist and hang on two women who were with the suspect began beating him around the face and head, eventually taking off on foot.

Toddeshia Weems and Shontice Hayes

18-year-old Toddeshia Weems and 19-year-old Shontice Hayes, both of St. Louis, were captured not too far away from the Jackie Joyner Kersee MetroLink Station.

Joseph Spencer

19-year-old Joseph Spencer of East St. Louis was taken into custody a short time later and they now face charges including Mob Action and Robbery.

Zott says it’s a concern that Metro is addressing as we enter the busy holiday season.

“We’re being more aggressive in our security policy,” he explains. “We’ve got more undercover operations and we’re trying to enforce a Zero Tolerance policy.”

At the same time he assures riders that using the Metro mass transit system remains extremely safe, pointing out that all trains, buses and platforms all have security cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day.

“If you look nation-wide our crime stats are excellent,” he says. “There’s not a lot of crime in our system. In fact we won a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) gold award for security.”

He points riders to the systems website — — for tips on maximizing your security while riding Metro trains and buses.

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