141 arrests in NYC iPhone sting against merchants

December 16, 2011 8:23:55 PM PST
Police say they've arrested 141 people in a New York City sting operation against small merchants who buy stolen iPhones and iPads.

They were charged with criminal possession of stolen property.

"This was a two-prong approach to apprehend both thieves and receivers of stolen property," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. "Suspects at both ends of the equation are learning the hard way that 'victims' and 'sellers' may in fact be undercover police officers."

Precincts throughout the city were surveyed for problematic commercial establishments, including places suspected of receiving stolen property in the past. Undercover officers fanned out across the city, entered the stores and offered merchants what they clearly stated were stolen goods at fire sale prices: Apple iPhone4s and Apple iPad2s sold for between $50 to $200 each.

A few of the sales took place on street corners but the majority were consummated inside the commercial establishments.

42 arrests were made in Brooklyn, 41 in Manhattan, 31 in the Bronx, 21 in Queens, and six on Staten Island (see list of locations below).

Grand larcenies are flat, up just 0.2% citywide, as of December 11th this year. Although flat, the small increase is being driven by the thefts of pricey held-held electronic device. The stings, which began Tuesday and continued through Friday followed stepped-up decoy operations in the subway, to capture thieves stealing stolen hand-held electronics from inattentive riders.

The popular items had driven up larcenies of the subway, although crime in mass transit is still the lowest in been in decades. During the first week of December, a subway initiative known as "Tool Box" resulted in over 1,600 arrests that included, 381 persons wanted, 12 knife arrests and 2 gun arrests, followed by a 13% decrease in subway crime the following week.

To avoid becoming a victim of theft, police are advising people riding subways or simply walking city streets to keep these safety tips in mind:

- Stay Alert, especially when you're listening to music.

- Keep electronic devices hidden

- Carry your handbag or wallet where you can see them

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