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iPhones Driving Subway Crime In City

Trendy smartphones a hot target for straphanging thieves, cops say

Got an iPhone? You might want to keep it a little closer on the train, as the New York City Police Department says the trendy mobile phones are driving a big increase in subway crime.

According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, Raymond Diaz of the NYPD transit bureau told the MTA board that “We’ve been seeing an incredible trend of young people snatching those cellphones.”

Diaz said that so far this year, cell phone snatchings are up 17.8 percent over the previous year, with 311 reported incidents as of last count.

In Queens, the trains with the worst record of phone-snatching incidents are the M, R and 7 trains, two of which serve Forest Hills directly.

NYPD Captain Thomas Marron said that the increase in iPad and iPhone use on the subways has led to a familiar refrain reported to transit officers.

"People are so engaged on their computers, on their iPhones, on their iPads,” Marron said. ”Lady had an iPad on her lap. The train pulled in, the doors opened up, guy runs past, iPad goes out, guy goes out, and off to the races they go.”

According to the Journal, transit police across the city are currently preparing dummy phones to track the theft of the devices — which they say are often immediately turned over for cash.

Cell phone snatchings are tracked by the police department under grand larceny statistics. So far in Forest Hills recently, grand larcenies have seen a big increase, week over week and month over month.

In the most recently released COMPSTAT reports, Forest Hills reported 12 grand larcenies between April 11 and April 17, a jump of seven over the same period last year.

Over the course of the previous month, grand larcenies jumped by over 50 percent. On the year, the total number of reported grand larcenies in the 112th Precinct is 132, compared to 116 in 2010. Those numbers include all grand larcenies, not just cellphone and iDevice thefts.

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