An 18-year-old serial thief was sentenced to eight years in county jail for snatching cell phones from distracted female passersby while riding his bicycle in central and downtown Long Beach, the city prosecutor’s office announced Thursday.
Long Beach resident Steven Flint was sentenced yesterday after being charged with nine counts each of misdemeanor battery and theft, and one count of fleeing from police, officials stated.
“This should serve as a strong message to serial criminals, stated City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, whose office handled the case.
Authorities said that between March and June of this year, Flint would ride his bicycle toward the victims and forcibly snatch their cell phones from their hands. Flint admitted to police that he specifically targeted victims he felt were not paying attention.
In one incident, Flint grabbed a cell phone out of a woman’s hand while she was pushing her infant in a stroller down Ocean Boulevard, officials stated.
“In another instance, Flint ripped the cell phone out of a victim’s hand as she exited the Metro train platform at Long Beach Blvd and First Street,” according to a release. “The victim chased Flint, but ultimately fell to her knees in a praying position, distraught, as he fled by bike.”
Haubert commended the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) for its thorough investigation of the string of thefts.
“The police saw a trend and devoted the resources necessary to investigate and put this case together,” Haubert said. “Nine victims were identified, and these were serious thefts—on the verge of being strong arm robberies.”
The incidents happened throughout central and downtown Long Beach, often at bus stops and crosswalks, according to authorities. Police were able to locate the nine victims, who were all female.
“The investigation, and subsequent prosecution of this case, demonstrates the ongoing collaborative efforts between the Long Beach Police Department and the City Prosecutor’s Office,” police Chief Robert Luna stated.
A relative of Flint said the 18-year-old stole the cell phones to buy drugs. However, no drug charges were filed in the case.
“It was the repetitive nature of the defendant’s action that was most disturbing,” stated Deputy City Prosecutor Stephanie Dowds who handled the case in court. “He targeted vulnerable pedestrians [and] would have continued to do so if not caught by the Long Beach Police Department.”