CHICAGO
01/04/2013 12:35 pm ET

Downtown Chicago Cell Phone Theft Ring: Police Warn Diners Of Phone Snatchers

Chicago police are warning diners in the city's Loop and Near North Side to beware of a small group of young men who are snatching cell phones from unsuspecting individuals inside fast-food restaurants in the area.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a group of three or four black males has been entering restaurants in the area, approaching diners with cell phones on their table and distracting them by presenting a flyer with information about a purported basketball team they are raising funds for. When they take back the flyer, they've reportedly been taking the phone along with them.

The scam has so far successfully led to three known cell phone thefts between last Friday and Wednesday, according to CBS Chicago.

"You wouldn't put $300 on the table and not pay attention to it -- so your cell phone has value, they recognize the value," Police Sergeant Lawrence Coleman told ABC Chicago of the scam.

Police are urging individuals in the area to be aware of their surroundings and, if they have any information about the ring, to contact authorities at (312) 747-8380.

Fast-food restaurants were named as the top place individuals lose their phones by Mashable last year.

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