Say you're sitting at the food court devouring your Big Mac when all of a sudden some guy walks up to you with a turtle neck, glasses, looking like the next Steve Jobs, and he offers you an iPhone for $50. Even with this guy's looks, no one offers something that valuable away for that cheap of a price – it is almost surely stolen.
According to The Huffington Post, this type of thing is precisely what police in San Francisco are doing to counter theft. Officers in plain clothes are walking around areas known for stolen good purchases and offering people cheap, openly stolen iPhones. Don't say yes though, or you will be arrested – this is all a test and a way for police to close the market for stolen goods.
As San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity told The Huffington Post, "If they steal the phone but can't sell it, there's no market. We're cutting the head off the snake."
Not all people are too happy with the police's methods in capturing the criminals, with some people claiming that it is encouraging people to commit crime. Police, however, are quick to note that the areas that they focus on – the corner of 7th and Market streets are notoriously linked to the global trade in stolen iPhones and people who buy from there know exactly what they're purchasing.
Smartphone theft is getting so bad that 50% of thefts in the area are of smartphones and it is even being compared to the ongoing war on drugs. The San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon, still isn't convinced these types of sting operations are effective, telling The Huffington Post that "This is like the drug war – the more arrests you make for drug use, the more drug use seems to go on."