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East Village Purse and Pocket Thieves Busted as Bar Snatchings on the Rise

By Serena Solomon | October 19, 2012 8:35am
 Police arrested two men for stealing valuables from purses and jacket pockets at the Bowery Electric on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.
Police arrested two men for stealing valuables from purses and jacket pockets at the Bowery Electric on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.
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EAST VILLAGE — Police arrested two men for stealing valuables out of purses and jacket pockets over the weekend at a popular Bowery club, as these types of organized snatchings have seen a significant rise on the nightlife-rich neighborhood, NYPD sources said. 

The two thieves, who were working together along with another man, were arrested about 11 p.m. Saturday at the Bowery Electric for "dipping," or delving into bags and coats to lift valuables such as iPhones, wallets and cash, according to police at the Ninth Precinct.

The three men also targeted the same venue a night earlier and were caught in the act on surveillance video, allowing cops to swoop in on Saturday and make the busts after the perpetrators returned, sources said.

"You would not believe the nerve or the gall of these people," said Ninth Precinct Deputy Inspector John Cappelmann, who viewed surveillance footage from the Bowery Electric. In the incidents, the pickpockets ripped off items from purses and jackets either left unattended or on the unsuspecting victims, police said.

The bar notified the precinct on Saturday afternoon of the Friday night incidents, and contacted cops again when staff members saw the suspects return to the venue again ion Saturday, police said.

"They came back the next night wearing the same clothes," said Cappelmann, who noted that only two of the three men were ultimately arrested.

The East Village has experienced an increase in the "dipping" trend this year, with reported incidents occurring in establishments such as One and One on First Avenue, the concert venue Webster Hall on East 11th Street, and the sports bar Pour House on Third Avenue, according to police. 

Police at a Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting this week warned those frequenting any nightspots in the neighborhood to be conscious of their valuables at all times.

Thieves look for opportunities such as bags hanging from hooks and stools, or items left unattended while patrons use the restroom or go outside for a cigarette, according to Cappelmann.

"This is something that we are experiencing this year that we didn't last year," he said, adding that "dips" involving unattended properties currently account for a third of the precinct's grand larcenies.

"About 30 or 35 percent of grand larceny in clubs involves organized groups going there just to steal," he said.

Similar incidents have become so prevalent in the area that the Ninth Precinct held an educational meeting last Thursday night with 25 area bars, including Bowery Electric, explained Lt. Patrick Ferguson.

"They are not the only ones in the precinct," Ferguson said of the particpating estblishments. "It's sporadic."