UPPER WEST SIDE — Police are warning elderly bus riders to watch their valuables, as pickpockets prey on senior citizen passengers on several Upper West Side bus lines, cops say.
The 20th Precinct has seen 11 cases of thieves snatching wallets and other valuables from unsuspecting senior citizens so far this year, Deputy Inspector Brian McGinn said at Monday's 20th Precinct Community Council meeting.
"These cowards are targeting the elderly who are on the bus by themselves," McGinn noted. "They see them as easy prey."
The thieves have hit multiple bus lines within the 20th Precinct, which runs from West 59th to 86th Street between Central Park and the Hudson River. Pickpockets have struck on the M104 and M7 lines twice each, and once each on the M66, M57, M2, M79, M11 and M86 lines. One of the thefts happened at a bus stop, McGinn said.
The exact ages of the victims weren't immediately available. Seven of the thefts happened between 3 and 11 p.m., while the others occurred between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., police said. Physical force hasn't been used in any of the thefts, which generally happen when the victims are distracted, McGinn said.
Transit officers have been riding buses in the wake of the thefts, and auxiliary police have been talking to seniors at bus stops and senior centers, warning them to be vigilant.
The pickpocket thefts echo a similar crime pattern in 2010, when thieves targeted older women bus riders on the Upper West Side, particularly on the M104 line. Police eventually nabbed two men and one woman in those crimes.