By Mariel S. Clark
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — Police and campus security are warning Columbia University students to take extra caution about keeping their wallets and other valuables in their bags and backpacks.
"Thieves know that 90 percent of the time if you carry this kind of bag your wallet is right here," said Ricardo Morales a Columbia University Crime Prevention Specialist as he pointed to the outside pocket of a backpack.
Morales said earlier this week a woman was pickpocketed as she left the 116th Street subway station. This was one of a number of recent robberies on subways and buses. In this case, police watched and arrested the pickpocket, who Morales said was well-dressed and used a coat slung over his arm to conceal that he was unzipping her bookbag.
"Not only was he going for her wallet which had credit cards and cash, but she had an iPod in there so he would have taken her iPod as well," Morales said.
Students say they know they shouldn't leave their wallets in their bookbags, especially on the subway, but many do it anyway.
"When I bring my computer, which I bring to school every day, it can't zip," said Jill Andres, a Columbia graduate student. "So I'm the person who's probably the best target ever cause bag is always open."
When asked where here wallet was now, she replied, "In my open purse that's not zipped."
Columbia graduate student Jason Kim should know better. His wallet was taken from his backpack a few months ago and yet his wallet was back in the bookbag on Friday.
"I replicated a mistake I shouldn't have made," Kim said.
Security experts say you should carry your backpack in front of you while on the subway or bus as well as while you enter and exit the stations because pickpockets, like the one from earlier this week, often target people on the stairs.
If you see or suspect pickpockets, call 911 or tell an MTA employee right away.
Police Warn Columbia Students about Backpack Pickpockets
By DNAinfo Staff on October 9, 2009 4:51pm |
By Mariel S. Clark