Group carries out theft scheme onboard VIA bus

Man caught on camera swiping woman's phone

SAN ANTONIO – Surveillance video onboard a VIA bus shows the moment a group of people carry out a plan to steal a woman's smartphone from her hands.

It happened Aug. 8 around 2:15 p.m. when the bus was stopped at East Commerce and North Rio Grande Street.

The footage shows a man walk from the back of the bus to the front to interact with the driver. Seconds later, two women walk to the doors of the bus. 

As it stops, the women rush out and hold the doors open. Another man from the group rushes by Destiny Mancillas and grabs her smartphone from her hands.

The group runs off and Mancillas runs after them. 

"When I was running I was crying because it was my dad's pictures leaving me," Mancillas said. "It had all my dad's memories on there."

The phone contained all but two photos Mancillas had of her deceased father.

After the theft, the bus drives away while passengers inform the driver what happened. 

While drivers are obligated to report a crime, VIA says drivers are not ordered to stop the bus if there is nothing that can be done.

"That operator is not authorized to give chase or arrest anyone because you have the other patrons and riders. Those are his or her responsibility," said Charlie Gonzalez, chief of Public Engagement for VIA. 

Mancillas did not catch up to the thieves. She called 911 to report the theft and also alerted the next VIA bus driver that stopped along her route. 

Police found two people Mancillas described, but did not find the stolen phone in their possession. 

The two people were identified and released. 

"I don't like to use my phone at all and I have my bag super close to me," Mancillas said. 

Gonzalez says riders should treat a VIA bus as they would any other public space. 

Click here for a list of rider safety tips from VIA.

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