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iPad and iPhone Sting Nets 141 Arrests Citywide

By Ben Fractenberg | December 16, 2011 8:04pm
Undercover officers arrested 141 people who thought they were buying stolen iPads and iPhones.
Undercover officers arrested 141 people who thought they were buying stolen iPads and iPhones.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Maybe they can use the "I'm Getting Arrested" app.

Nearly 150 people — many merchants in stores throughout the city — were nabbed in a vast undercover iPhone and iPad sting in which they eagerly bought what they thought was stolen merchandise, police said.

The four-day police sting, which started last Tuesday, netted 141 arrests city-wide at commercial establishments like convenience stores, newsstands, delis and barber shops. Police zeroed in on the stores because they were suspected of receiving stolen goods in the past.

In Manhattan, 41 people were picked up in neighborhoods from the East Village to Inwoodand face stolen property charges. Six people were rounded up at the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Washington Heights alone.

According to police, the suspects were approached by undercover officers offering the latest Apple products — the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 — for between $50 and $200, a fraction of the retail price.

While many of the alleged deals took place on the street, most unfolded inside the stores.

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

The arrests come in the wake of a stepped-up campaign to nab thieves looking to steal electronics from subway riders using undercover officers.

The initiative, called operation "Tool Box," resulted in 1,600 arrests during the first week of December, police said.

The following week, there was a 13 percent drop in subway crime, according to the NYPD.