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Scammers Swiping Cell Phones From Downtown Diners

A man operates an iPhone (Photo credit:ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A man operates an iPhone (Photo credit:ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

roe250 David Roe
Veteran WBBM anchor David Roe has been with the station for over 20...
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Updated 6/14/2012 at 9:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new cell phone theft scam is afoot around Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, police say the scam has left diners at downtown restaurants high and dry without their cell phones.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports


In the scam, two to four boys and young men between the ages of 16 and 21 walk up to people seated at restaurant tables, show them a flier, and ask them for a donation, police said in a community alert.

While the young men distract the victim, one places a sheet of paper over a person’s cell phone that had been lying on the table and palms it into his pocket.

Libby Massey and her co-workers were lunching in the Loop on Thursday for good reason. Massey had just gotten back from a trip to the Middle East, and she wanted to show them her pictures.

Along with an iPad, the table was filled with cell phones and even an iPod, contrary to advice from police.

“I feel concerned, but I never think it will happen to me,” Massey’s co-worker, Ingrid Massey, tells CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey.

The scam has been used to steal cell phones at least three times at downtown restaurants.

Police have not named the restaurants, but they have said the thefts happened this past Friday around 1:25 p.m. in the 600 block of North State Street, and on Wednesday of last week between 2:45 and 2:50 p.m. in the 0-99 block of West Adams Street, and the 100 block of West Adams Street.

Anyone with information about the thefts can contact Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8382.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.