Detectives found of the 1,143 robberies reported, up from 926 in the previous year, 83 were street robberies committed by juveniles or with theft of an iPhone, Apple's iconic cellphone, as its goal, The Denver Post reported Wednesday.
"We had a couple of groups that were victimizing people. We have arrested some people in the groups, but there are others out there," said Denver police data analysis unit director Chris Wyckoff.
While violent crime in the United States fell by 3.8 percent last year, the fifth consecutive year of decline, Denver had increases in nearly every major crime category, FBI statistics released this week said, robbery having the steepest increase.
Denver Police added detectives specializing in street robberies from its headquarters to its six district stations this year, but department statistics indicate the totals from 2012 are on a pace similar to 2011, the newspaper said.
Police Cmdr. Magen Dodge described the technique for stealing iPhones, known as "Apple picking" and common in urban areas, as searching for cellphone users wearing Apple's distinctive white earbuds, then asking the unsuspecting victim to borrow the phone before making off with it.
Robbers in Denver employ the same method, Wyckoff said.