SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- Officers arrested a suspect in Pinole who police say chatted up office workers and salespeople across the Bay Area before swiping their Apple devices when they looked away.

Based on tips that came in after media coverage of the string of thefts that started at the end of February, police identified the suspect and then on Thursday arrested Nicholas Anthony Simat, 26, at his friend's Pinole home, South San Francisco police said.

Police had been looking for the chatty thief since the end of February, when they first heard of a man who spent a long time talking to an office worker and then made off with the worker's iPhone in Burlingame.

Reports of similar thefts popped up in South San Francisco, Daly City and other Bay Area cities. The suspect, who called himself Mike or Michael, claimed he'd recently come into a large inheritance.

Police said Simat claimed he stole the devices from around the Bay Area in order to pay for his addiction to heroin and prescription pain medication OxyContin. He was booked into San Mateo County jail and was being held in lieu of $272,500.

He was also wanted by Pleasanton police on suspicion of burglary and theft, South San Francisco police said.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.



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