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Metro police are setting up would-be gadget snatchers:

“Snatching is a crime of opportunity,” Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Ron Pavlik explained. And Metro is giving crooks the opportunity to get caught.

Since October, cops in street clothes have been riding the system, standing around with devices held carelessly enough that a thief may try to nab their Nook. But when the thieves strike, so do the cops. They’ve already made dozens of arrests.

Such thefts are a problem plaguing transit systems around the country as smartphones and e-readers proliferate. Work-weary commuters are easy marks as they zone out, listening to music or playing “Angry Birds,” with expensive devices in hand.

Last year, Metro logged more serious crimes than at least the six previous years, much of it fueled by such robberies. The agency investigated 1,007 robberies in 2010, nearly triple the number it had in 2005. And three of every four cases entailed pricey electronic devices getting snatched out of riders’ hands.

Has anyone seen one of these snatchings go down? (Or had it happen?)