It's uncertain if the same individual or group of individuals can be blamed, but there's been a spate of cellphone thefts on BART the last two weeks, and BART Police are saying riders need to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

As the Mercury News reports
, there were at least 13 cellphone snatchings in the BART system between August 11 and August 24, with 10 of those happening on stopped trains in which the thief grabbed the phone out of the victim's hand and ran off the train onto the platform. More than half of the incidents occurred at busy stations, with two robberies taking place at each of the following stations: Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, and 19th Street/Oakland.

Weirdly, BART police Lt. Terence McCarty can't say whether this is an ongoing trend, because some snafu with the department's new record management system, installed in April, has made it impossible to pull any recent crime statistics.

"It's just kind of common sense that you always want to take care of your property and be aware of your surroundings," says McCarty, but of course very few people seem to heed that advice and almost everyone turns to their phone to pass the time on their commute.

Apparently, this tweet from Wednesday was just a coincidence.

Because most people use password protection on their phones, however, it behooves thieves to steal phones while they're in use, enabling them to reset the password while they're unlocked. BART Police advise everyone to also use anti-theft tracking apps, and to register their devices and keep detailed descriptions, including your phone's serial number, in addition to the color and model.

Apple is also upping the ante with anti-theft protection with a new patent, as Consumerist reports. The patent is called "biometric capture for unauthorized user identification," and it will use a cellphone or iPad's camera as well as its home button to record a thief's image and fingerprint in the event of a theft, after some anti-theft software is activated. The information could then be transmitted to a remote server and used either to locate the device or prosecute the thief.

Previously: Brave Vigilante Thwarts Cell Phone Theft On Muni