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NYPD Struggling To Deal With Rash Of Sidewalk Cafe Robberies

Cops Don't Track The Crimes, Putting The Onus On The Victim To Act
Sidewalk cafe

The NYPD is having a hard time dealing with a rash of sidewalk cafe thefts throughout the five boroughs. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Few can resist a sidewalk cafe in the summertime — and they are literally everywhere in New York City. Thieves across the five boroughs are taking notice, stealing from unsuspecting diners.

So if you planning to dine out, you better beware.

Your phone, your purse and your bag could be gone in a New York minute, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported.

“People are eating. They’re deep in conversation. You get up to go to the bathroom…,” added Andrew Taylor of Harlem.

And they literally grab your stuff and go.

“I haven’t thought about it, no. It just never even occurred to me,” said Laura Berry of Connecticut.

Well, it should be on all consumers’ minds. The NYPD is seeing an uptick in thieves snatching valuables off sidewalk cafe tables, running off before patrons can even react.

And it’s not just happening outside. CBS 2’s Dennis saw surveillance video of two suspects grabbing a man’s cell phone off a counter and taking off. The victim later posting a screenshot of them on Twitter, saying “wanted — these two stole my iphone in hells kitchen. help me find them!”

“By the time I realized the phone was missing out of my pocket and I went back, it was already gone,” Miles Doran said.

Police are seeing these thefts all over the city. Chris Pollok’s Bier International restaurant at Eighth Avenue and 113th Street was also hit.

“Some guy was going up and down checking it out, and came back and snatched the phone and ran off,” Pollok said.

It’s happened twice this month at the popular Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, and also at a cafe on Seventh Avenue in the West Village. The wait staff is actually warning customers that anything is up for grabs.

“Yeah, or sometimes wallets, or sometimes checkbooks with the cash inside, whatever they see,” server Dara Karac said.

Counting sidewalk cafe thefts is tough for the NYPD. It doesn’t specifically track the crime, and restaurant surveillance cameras are mostly trained on the door, and not the tables, so catching a thief might be up to the victim, CBS 2’s Dennis reported.

“I’d go after him, for sure, absolutely. Show ‘em whose boss,” said James Dowell of Hoboken, N.J.

Police don’t recommend that. They said to safeguard your items under the table.

Or dine at your own risk.

One deterrent is iPhone users are using various apps to track their stolen phones, and the thieves who took them.

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