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Police: Suspect Targeting Cell Phones, Other Gadgets On LES

Man Goes Mostly After Young People, Usually Brandishing A Gun Or A Knife
Surveillance image of the alleged Manhattan robbery suspect wanted by police (credit: NYPD)

Surveillance image of the alleged Manhattan robbery suspect wanted by police (credit: NYPD)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are searching for an alleged serial robbery suspect who is wanted for stealing cash, smart phones and other pricey electronics.

The suspect has mugged at least 16 people in the Lower East Side since May, spanning from Houston Street to East 23rd Street, police said.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

He usually flashes a weapon, either a gun or a knife, approaches a victim and takes whatever he wants — typically a cell phone or other gadget, but sometimes also jewelry, cash and wallets, police said, adding all of the attacks have happened between 7:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

“I’m very concerned because I work in this area,” said East Village resident Pearl Holford told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “You want to be careful with someone who’s violent like that, running up on you.”

The first incident happened on May 5 in an elevator on Avenue C, though most of the robberies have been on the street, police said. Nearly a dozen attacks happened near the East River Park. The most recent muggings happened on Friday. Both in the same location — on 14th Street near Avenue C, police said.

It appears the suspect is going after young people. Most of the victims are between 16 and 23 years old, but the oldest victim was 59.

The NYPD described the suspect as being 30 to 40 years old, between 5-feet-9 and 6-foot with a thin mustache and thin beard.

In almost every case, he has snatched a cell phone.

“It’s insane, things like that are happening over an iPhone,” said East Village resident Greg Weinstein. “It used to be sneakers, now it’s technology.”

“I’d give him what he wants. If it’s money, my life is more important than my wallet,” East Village resident Alex Sica said.

Over the weekend, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that a stunning 40 percent of all items stolen in the city are Apple gadgets — a trend so apparent, it’s being called “Apple Picking.”

“There is a disproportionate amount of thefts of iPhones and phones in general,” Kelly said. “Mostly iPhones, iPads, that sort of thing.”

Anyone with information should call police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

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