The surveillance footage shows the shirtless suspect trying to dash through a turnstile at the Canal Street Station on the R line on June 22 at 5:55 p.m., but a pair of straphangers traps him there.
After struggling for a while, the alleged thief manages to squeeze through the bars of the floor-to-ceiling turnstile and escape.
Earlier, police said that he punched a man aboard a southbound R train and snatched his iPhone.
Police say he is 30- to 35-years-old, around 5-foot-9 with a muscular, build, slight goatee and an earring.
He was wearing no shirt and jeans, police said.