By Joy Bergmann
In three incidents in the past two weeks, armed men have approached victims to steal their smartphones and other personal property in the 24th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Marlon Larin told Community Council attendees Wednesday evening.
On January 19th at around 6:20 p.m., a man displaying a firearm confronted two people at 325 W. 93rd Street and demanded their property, including two smartphones.
A responding NYPD officer used his personal iPhone to track one of the stolen iPhones as it moved up to the 166th Street area of the Bronx; he also sent a text message that would display to anyone using the stolen phone, “Call 24th Precinct.” Someone did, reportedly a person who purchased the hot property. Detectives returned two phones to the victims and feel confident about catching the thief; video captured his image but NYPD has not released the footage, Larin said.
On the mornings of January 5th and 14, students short-cutting through Douglass Houses at 103rd Street were approached by men with firearms demanding their phones and property. The 24th Precinct added extra patrols, expanding the school team’s hours of operation and surveillance of the area.
The principal at MS 54 on 107th street sent a notice about one of the muggings:
Last week, a former student of ours, now a ninth grader, was walking through the Douglass Houses, at 103rd Street, to get from Amsterdam Avenue to the subway on Central Park West at about 7AM. He was held up at gunpoint by two men in their 20s. One of the men was wearing a ski mask. Luckily the student was unharmed. The perpetrators took his phone and money. They even made him unlock his phone before running off.
The 24th Precinct has added extra patrols and plain-clothed officers both in the morning and after school, but please have yet another discussion with your children about street safety. Walking and talking on the phone, walking and texting on the phone and having their phones visible makes them targets. Encourage them to stay on well-traveled paths to and from school. If they choose to play in the school yard before or after school, know that it is not supervised. They need to keep their belongings close.
Larin reminded community members to keep alert and not be mesmerized by their phones while walking or taking the subway.