NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Undercover officers are taking aim at the high-tech black market, and the NYPD says its city-wide sting operation has netted 141 arrests.
On Friday, police arrested clerks, business owners, and other workers who, cops said, eagerly exchanged cash for stolen iPads and iPhones, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
Business owner Mohammad Taariq said one of his workers, who doesn’t speak much English, was arrested.
“The police is coming to trick the people to get them,” he said. “Of course, all of the people in this area do not understanding very clearly.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly addressed even the hint of an entrapment defense, saying every suspect was well aware of what was going down.
“It was clear that the devices had been stolen, in their minds,” Kelly said.
The long list of arrests spanned all five boroughs, with suspects charged with criminal possession of stolen property for buying the devices for a steal, anywhere between $50 and $200 each.
Commissioner Kelly said innocent customers become the victims.
“Purchasing for small amounts of money, perhaps $200 for an iPad and then, of course, they’re selling them at a higher amount,” he said.
Clerk Tony Mejia said his boss was arrested by an officer who had a sob story, pretending to need quick cash for an emergency. He said he was trying to be helpful, and that two wrongs don’t make any of it right.
“This is wrong. This is wrong. All the time this is wrong,” he said.
Kelly said with so many iPad and iPhone robberies in the city, it was time for a crackdown.
“That’s our intention, to reduce the demand, reduce the places where people who steal these things can go and sell them,” he said.
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