More than one-third of the robberies in Providence, R.I., this year are cell-phone robberies, mirroring a trend that is also being seen nationwide, reports the Providence Journal. Most of the robbers and victims, according to the police, range in age from 14 to early 20s–and many of the crimes occur between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, when teens have left school and are around and about. The phones are being taken at gunpoint and knifepoint, and some victims have suffered a beating before giving up their prized possession. "It really has become a problem," said Detective Capt. Hugh T. Clements Jr., acting commander of the police Investigative Division. "This has taken the place of the gold neck chain" as a preferred target of robbers. A sleek "smart phone," as the latest generation of multiple-use cell phones is known, is precious to status-conscious urban teenagers. The Sidekick, with a nifty slide-out mini-keyboard for carrying on virtually continuous conversations via instant-message texting, is especially coveted, according to teens and the police. Each of the two conversationalists can see a picture of her chat partner on her view screen, and a band around the LX model glows blue to signal an incoming message. Richard Reed, 16, of Providence, an 11th-grade student at Alvarez High School, has a Sidekick ID. Admiring its array of features, he pointed out, "It’s basically like a miniature computer." He had an earlier-model Sidekick ID swiped at school that was recovered when the thief was confronted. But he lost that phone for good when he and a friend were mugged by three other youths after they got off a bus in the Hartford neighborhood on their way home from school last spring…

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