Subway snatchers: Pickpocketing on the rise in city subways

Cell phone theft in subway
Beware of cell phone pickpockets in subway.

On February 17th, 2012,  an 81-year-old man was shoved on to the tracks of the Lorimer Street subway stop on the J train, while chasing two unidentified young men who swiped his Iphone. Incidents of this nature have gone down in recent years, due to the constant police presence in the areas of Bushwick and East Williamsburg, but it is safe to say crime is still more than evident in urban areas such as Lorimer Street in Bushwick.

A young woman walking home on Dekalb Avenue days earlier was knocked to the ground in an ambush by an unidentified man, who used aggressive force and a slew of profanities to retrieve her cell phone and headphones.

Due to the recent number of Iphone theft incidents and attack on riders,  the MTA has set forth certain guidelines, including an automated message that appears on local subway and buses that advises all passengers to protect themselves and their belongings.

“Although pickpockets often target people who are alone and asleep, they know how to operate in crowds as well. That’s why you should be wary of being pushed or bumped.  Overlooking these things can make you an easy target. Keep alert if you see or hear a commotion,” advises the MTA.  “Be extra cautious if you use headsets. They tend to reduce your awareness.”.

Riders are becoming more wary, but for those who encounter long, grueling days on the job, falling asleep on the subway may prove to cost more than just a missed stop. These offenders specifically prey on those that are unaware, sleep, or actively displaying a mobile device such as an Iphone, Ipad, or Ebook.

Fast forward to July 24th, and the presence of uniformed and undercover police officers are increased due to the recent string of cell phone thefts in the Bronx and across the nation, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. He advises that riders “pay attention to their surroundings and on the train.” He referred to more riders using the devices as a form of “entertainment” rather in there intended purpose as a cell phone on the trains, luring prospective theives.

[View the story “Subway snatchers: Pickpocketing on the rise in city subways ” on Storify]

It is safe to assume that cell phone thefts will increase in 2012, due to the massive demand for such high priced items from the Apple company. Police forces are steadily patrolling subway stations in all areas in New York City, and have even managed to catch a predator attempting to steal a cell phone and wallet from a sleeping passenger in Manhattan earlier this week.

Hopefully the next time you see the “Protect your belongings” sign on city subways, you’ll put away the cell phone, and adhere to the warnings.


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