LOWER MANHATTAN — A crew of four well-dressed Chilean pickpockets, known for smoking cigarettes and wearing "a lot of cologne," according to police, were charged with stealing wallets from 14 people at mostly Downtown bars and restaurants, then using the victims' credit cards to buy more than $70,000 worth of electronics, usually from Apple stores.
Authorities accused the men — Hugo Romero Vasquez, 34, Ricardo Marquez, 37, Carlos Marcelo Rivera Morales, 31 and Felipe Andres Romero Vasquez, 30 — of lifting wallets from 14 customers at mainly upscale bars and restaurants in the Financial District, TriBeCa, Battery Park City, SoHo, Chelsea and Midtown, between August 2016 and March of this year, according to their criminal complaint.
After surreptitiously taking wallets from customers at restaurants including Wolfgang Steakhouse at 409 Greenwich St., Harry's Restaurant at 1 Hanover Square and Charlie Bird at 5 King St, the men would head to an Apple store, either in SoHo or Chelsea and buy thousands of dollars worth of products, authorities said. Sometimes they'd take their stolen credit cards to Best Buy. Police used surveillance videos at the locations to identify the men as suspects.
Police sources describe the crew as "very professional." The men often sit back-to-back with their victims, slowly inching closer until they quickly dip into a pocket and take a wallet, police said.The crew may be responsible for dozens of other thefts in the New York, as well as other cities, police sources said, and the NYPD is continuing to investigate them.
The men are also responsible for at least one of the six thefts reported at Financial District bars on St. Patrick's Day, police said.
According to police, the men were arrested at the World Trade Center mall on Friday, after 1st Precinct officers recognized them.
Many were fooled over the weekend, but not my Anti-Crime Team.— NYPD 1st Precinct (@NYPD1Pct) April 3, 2017
They fooled this pick pocket crew!
27 ARRESTS! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/rk82lxgWBI
The men, who were charged with 27 counts of grand larceny were being held on $50,000 bail Monday. A call to their lawyer was not immediately returned.