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Thieves Hung Up on Stealing Cellphones at Jamaica Bus Stops, NYPD Says

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | January 28, 2014 7:56am
 Phone thieves target bus stops in Jamaica, police said.
Phone thieves target bus stops in Jamaica, police said.
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DNAinfo/Matthew Katz

QUEENS — Phone thefts may be driving crime in Jamaica, but the NYPD is answering the call by targeting the bus stops where a number of the devices are swiped, officials said.

According to police officials from the 103rd Precinct, which covers Jamaica and Hollis, about 75 percent of all robberies and grand larcenies in the area over the past year involved iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones.

Thieves often target people riding or waiting for buses, said Inspector Charles McEvoy, commanding officer of the precinct.

"It's all connected to a bus," McEvoy said. "Whether you are on a bus, waiting for a bus, exiting a city bus and you are walking a block away texting on your phone.”

McEvoy said that about a year ago the number of iPhone thefts on buses began to increase and the precinct deployed extra officers to ride them.

The strategy worked and the number of thefts occurring inside buses was dramatically reduced.

In December there was only one phone theft incident on a bus, while in some months during the past year the precinct recorded as many as 12 iPhone thefts on buses.

Despite the decrease, the thefts continue to be a problem in bus stops and nearby areas, police say.

McEvoy said most iPhone robberies are committed by using physical force, as opposed to gunpoint or knifepoint robberies.

Often times, he said, “someone just comes behind you and snatches the phones out of your hands.”

Overall crime in the precinct decreased by 15 percent this year compared to last year, according to statistics provided by the NYPD for the period from Jan. 1 through Jan. 19.

There have been 20 robberies this year, compared to 36 in the same period last year. It was not clear how many robberies this year included phone thefts.

There were 15 grand larcenies this year during the same period compared to 23 last year.