Tech savvy thieves nab cell phones

Eugene Jackson, 21, of Starke,  Freddie Mccrary, 22, of Starke, and  Taiviyon Johnson, 19, of Lawtey, were all arrested Friday morning and are facing charges in connection with two armed robberies in Gainesville overnight.

Gainesville police said one of those armed robberies happened in the 400 block of NW 3rd St. In that robbery, police said the victim had a bag with a wallet stolen.   The other robbery happened along the 100 block of SE 4th Street, where police said the victim told police he was walking with friends around 11:30pm when a car with 4 people inside stopped and asked for directions.

Officer Benjamin Tobias, spokesperson for Gainesville Police  said "As the victim walked up to the vehicle to give directions, one of the males produced a handgun and demanded the subject's belongings, phones, wallets, anything."

The victim handed over his iPhone and the suspects demanded he unlock his phone before they got away, said police.

"This is the first time I can remember hearing that specifically,” Officer Tobias told Fox 35’s David Williams. "Thieves are getting tech savvy. They know people's phones have GPS…could be tracked that way. They're actually stopping and thinking before they commit these crimes."

There are anti-theft apps you can download, -- some for free, others you pay for. For example, Apple says with its "Find My iPhone" app, you can remotely wipe your phone to delete personal data if the phone falls in the wrong hands, and restore it if you get it back. In this case, a K9 and an officer tracked two of the suspects who were hiding in bushes at a home along the 300 block of NW 19th Street. In both of these cases, police said no one was hurt, and the victims got their stuff back.

"I think it's important to have some sort of ability to track your phone,” Officer Tobias told Fox 35’s David Williams. “Apple has some of those apps built in. I know Android does as well. Definitely to have that way to track your phone if it does become lost or stolen."

By the way, police said they haven't yet found the gun involved, but they are hot on the trail of that fourth suspect. Officer Tobias said authorities believe the know who he is and they are working “very strong leads” to track him down. Gainesville police is asking anyone with information about both of these crimes, to give police a call.