NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD has launched a search for a thief who has been snatching iPhones on the streets of Astoria, Queens, and in the busy Court Square subway station in Long Island City.
Police said the robber has been walking up to the victims from behind and grabbing their iPhones before running off. No one has been injured in the incidents, some of which happened in broad daylight.
The same thief is suspected in incidents at the following locations:
• Friday Aug. 1 around 9:25 p.m., on the stairs leading from the northbound E train at the Court Square subway station, at 44th Drive and 21st Street in Long Island City, Queens;
• Friday, Sept. 7, around 5:45 p.m., on the southbound E train platform at the same subway station;
• Tuesday, Sept. 11, around 7:30 p.m., at 36th Avenue and 29th Street in Astoria;
• Saturday, Sept. 15, around 12:40 p.m., on the southbound E train platform, again at the Court Square subway station;
• Monday, Sept. 17, around 12:30 p.m., near 35th Avenue and 28th Street in Astoria;
• Monday, Sept. 17, around 9 p.m., near Broadway and 31st Street in Astoria;
• Wednesday, Sept. 19, around 3:30 p.m., near 37th Avenue and 31st Street in Astoria;
• Thursday, Sept. 20, around 3:15 p.m., near 35th Avenue and 28th Street in Astoria.
The suspect is described as an African-American male around 20 years old, standing 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall with a thin build.
The warning about the Queens thefts came on the heels of a report that smartphone theft is at an all-time high this year in New York. Officials said the problem could get even worse unless phone companies change their ways.
In fact, in New York City, the theft of iPhones – which has been dubbed “i-Crime” and “Apple Picking” – is driving up crime, CBS 2 reported.
“Our crime statistics have gone up almost four percent this year,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “If in fact there were no thefts of Apple products we actually have a decrease this year.”
Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, theft of Apple products in New York City has nearly tripled, CBS 2 reported.
In the Queens incidents, anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crime Stopper Hotline, at (800) 577-TIPS. The public may also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, or texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering TIP577.