NYPD Warns of Emerging UWS Theft Trends, Gives Update on Two Sisters Found Near Hudson


Captain Malin speaks to the board.

By Alex Israel

The NYPD is warning Upper West Siders to take extra measures to secure their belongings, following recent reports of theft at local gyms and movie theaters.

During November’s full Community Board 7 meeting, 20th Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Timothy Malin asked the board and community members to stay vigilant in the face of two emerging trends.

The first is an uptick in theft of personal items from gym lockers. Malin has received reports of multiple thefts between the New York Sports Club at 75 West End Avenue (63rd Street), and Equinox at 160 Columbus Avenue (between 67th and 68th Streets). “If you patronize any of the gyms in the 20th Precinct or the 24th Precinct, please use a quality lock and make sure you always lock your valuables,” he suggested.

The second is an increase in grand larceny while victims are at the movies. Three women have reported their purses stolen from the AMC Loews Lincoln Square (1998 Broadway) in recent weeks, he said. NYPD is working to get some PSAs out and is hoping people will spread the word, as it’s “very difficult for [NYPD] to enforce this, because it’s dark inside the movie theater,” according to Malin.

Despite the emergence of these new trends, Malin was happy to share that larcenies are down 8 percent from this time last year, and that overall crime is down 1.8 percent – the first year-over-year decrease in 18 months.

Prompted by a community board member, Malin also provided an update on the two sisters found dead on the shore of the Hudson in October. While the investigation is still ongoing, Malin said the NYPD is “99.9 percent sure” that their deaths were not homicides, but rather suicides – likely a “suicide pact.”

This weekend, the NYPD recovered a purse and passports from Riverside Park, belonging to Rotana Farea, 22, and her younger sister, 16-year-old Tala Farea. But they are still working to piece together what happened between the time the sisters were declared missing from their home in Fairfax, Virginia, in August, and found dead in New York. “There is no reason to believe it’s a homicide … we still have to account for their whereabouts for two months,” said Malin.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential, police say.

NEWS | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Janice says:

      I would like to know how the purses are being stolen at the movie theaters so we can know how to be more vigilant. Are they placed on the ground while watching something? Thanks.

      • jezbel says:

        It doesn’t matter if they were on the ground or on the seat next to you. Both places are the wrong places to keep a purse in NYC. Either don’t bring your purse (keep money & credit card in a small change purse or wallet) and in your pocket or coat pocket. Keep your coat on your seat around you or under you. Never leave anything of value out where it can be snatched while you’re looking at a movie or talking at a restaurant. Or wear a cross-body bag.

    2. Lorraine says:

      It wasn’t exactly the police who recovered the sisters’ purse. It was found by a volunteer during a Riverside Park Conservancy cleanup. I was also a volunteer and was a few feet away picking up endless bits of styrofoam (ugh!) when he found it in the ornamental grass. Imagine our shock when he said there were two Saudi passports in there! There was another purse found a few feet from the first one, too. Quite a morning!

    3. Lis Anderson says:

      I doubt it was a suicide “pact.”
      More than likely a crazy murderer.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        I’m glad you have more insight into this than the team of detectives investigating it.

    4. BillyNYC says:

      I never go to gym’s…mostly low lives and disease and bacteria species goes there.
      I have my own gym in my home 🏡