Home Asides Smartphones still powering bump in subway crimes

Smartphones still powering bump in subway crimes

by Benjamin Kabak

Every few months, as the MTA releases its crime statistics, we’ve seen a few themes recycled through the news coverage. As I wrote in October and again revisted in January, straphangers’ obliviousness underground has resulted in an uptick in subway thefts as those who flaunt their smartphones and tablets are getting robbed.

Today, as The Wall Street Journal reports, those numbers are again on the rise. Grand larcenies — defined, in part, as the theft of a cell phone — are up 17.8 percent in 2011 as compared with the same time period last year, and police officials are blaming the iPhone 4. “We’ve been seeing an incredible trend of young people snatching those cellphones,” Raymond Diaz, head of the NYPD’s transit department, said to MTA officials today.

According to Diaz, most thefts occur on crowded trains when pickpockets can be most active, and the lines most frequently targeted included the East Side IRT in Manhattan, the J and L trains in Brooklyn and the M, R and 7 lines in Queens. The thieves, the cops say, are reselling most of the phones, and the NYPD is planning a sting. Still, despite this news, crime underground is well below levels from even the late 1990s, and Diaz warned against straphangers who are too complacent. “We feel good that people feel comfortable using their devices,” he said. “But they’ve just go to be a little cautious, especially when they’re sitting by the door.”

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5 comments

R. Graham April 21, 2011 - 5:05 pm

This is not likely to change especially when mobile devices are starting to replace newspapers. I for one use my phone to read the Daily News each day as opposed to buying the large paper itself. Same content through an app for free.

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SEAN April 21, 2011 - 7:39 pm

Is your phone tracking you? There was an article in the NYT yesterday on that very subject & what implications that might have.

This reminds me of a story that happend to a 13-year old girl who’s father & step mother I know. They went to Bush gardens in Tampa & the mother chose to put the bag they were carrying into a cubby instead of a locker while on one of the rides. They had a clear view at alltimes of the cubby, but still the bag was stolen right under their nose. It contained amung other things an Iphone with GPS witch was used by Tampa police to catch the thug who did this. It turns out the criminal had 19 other arrests on his wrapsheet for similar crimes & it only took a very smart 13-year old to take him down again.

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Al D April 22, 2011 - 9:09 am

How about iPads, Kindles and Nooks? Hopefully I can continue prominently display my brand new iPad 2 with little fear. 😉

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ferryboi April 24, 2011 - 9:20 pm

Nobody ever steals my book or my New York Post. I feel left out.

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Alon Levy April 24, 2011 - 11:55 pm

The New York Post isn’t worth stealing.

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