The taking of iPhones from unsuspecting owners has become so prevalent across the country the theft is being called "Apple picking."
Two women were arrested early Sunday at a State Street restaurant for allegedly doing just that, taking an iPhone during a sting operation planned by Madison police.
Amanda Gonzales, 25, and Chanise Clay, 23, both of Madison, were tentatively charged with theft, police said in a news release.
The sting was conducted at State Street Brats, 603 State St., at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday.
"An undercover officer left the phone unattended in a purse near the dance floor," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.
"What the criminals did not know was members of the Community Policing Team were closely watching the purse from a nearby table," DeSpain said.
One of the suspects allegedly took the purse and both went into a bathroom stall, with the other suspect coming out with the purse. Both were arrested.
"State Street Brats is one downtown location hit hard in recent months by criminals targeting iPhones and other smart phones," DeSpain said.
"In many nightclub cases, phones are swiped from bar tops or tables," DeSpain said. "Other times, they are removed from women's purses.
Suspects are known to work in tandem, with one distracting the phone owner while the other steals the phone.
"We urge all smart phone owners to protect their property and to be aware of this crime trend," DeSpain said.