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Police Catch Teen Car Thieves by Tracking Owner's iPhone, Sources Say

 A mobile mugger reportedly smashed a woman's iPhone while being pursued by police.
A mobile mugger reportedly smashed a woman's iPhone while being pursued by police.
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Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

QUEENS — Two teens were arrested for stealing a car that was left running after police tracked it using the owner's iPhone, which was left inside, police said.

The incident comes amid a recent jump in car thefts in the 112th Precinct. From Monday to Wednesday, six cars were stolen compared to 60 swiped last year as a whole.

Car thefts were still down 11 percent on the year, though, through June 1.

On Tuesday night, a Forest Hills resident parked his 2005 Suzuki Forenza in front of his house on Kessel Street around 11 p.m., police said.

He left the car running and went to pick up something inside his house. Shortly after that, another car pulled up and three individuals, including two teens, 15 and 16, jumped into the man's vehicle and both cars drove away, police said.

The car’s owner left an iPhone inside which allowed the police to track the Suzuki through Richmond Hill and then Ozone Park.

When the police officers tried to stop them around 131st Street, near Liberty Avenue, the group abandoned the car and fled.

But two of the suspects were arrested around 1 a.m. and charged with car theft, criminal possession of stolen property and unlawful use of stolen property, police said.

Last year, 60 vehicles were stolen in the neighborhood, a far cry from the nearly 3,500 stolen in 1990.

Overall crime in the precinct, which includes Forest Hills and Rego Park, dropped by nearly 15 precent this year, compared to the same period last year, according to statistics provided by the NYPD for the period ending June 1.

Lt. Brian Goldberg said at a Community Board 6 meeting Wednesday that there also has been a number of incidents, in which thieves have stolen change from unlocked cars.

"Keep the doors locked, even in driveways," he said.