A man and woman were arrested on grand theft charges and 17 cellphones were recovered in a series of pickpocket thefts outside the bars on Santa Monica Boulevard, deputies said.
Santa Monica Boulevard is the heart of nightlife in West Hollywood. But in recent months, it has become a target for pickpocketing.
The deputies were on foot patrol outside the bars when they saw a man and woman who resembled a pickpocket suspect from previous incidents.
They detained the duo and recovered the stolen phones, returning five of them to their owners that night.
Bars have been posting signs warning customers of cellphone thieves to spread awareness of the recurring problem.
Jacob Jauregui had his cellphone stolen in the area twice in the past year.
“You come to WeHo because it’s a gay safe space, especially for the community,” Jauregui said. “A lot of the folks that come to West Hollywood are not millionaires — they are paying off their phones. To have to go to the store and pay $1000 to get a new phone, it’s a lot. It’s a lot for anybody.”
NBC employee Jesse Chow, who lives and socializes in West Hollywood, had his cellphone stolen from his front pocket twice in the last seven months.
Chow said the detective he spoke to said he was working on more than 25 cases.
John Erickson, a West Hollywood City Councilman, said he is thankful that city is one step closer to stopping the problem.
“I know that this is an issue that the community has been talking to me and my colleagues about and something we’ve been taking very seriously,” Erickson said. “To have someone out there pickpocketing and hurting our businesses and our residents, it’s really great to see that we were not only able to apprehend them but now hold them accountable.”
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