2009-04-30 / Front Page

COPS PROBE LOCAL CELL PHONE THEFTS

By Charles Rogers

The common denominator lately when it comes to felonious robberies seems to be cell phones — T-Mobile, more specifically, along with AT&T and Nextel, according to police. Most of the robberies are perpetrated on young teenagers, although there is no discrimination when it comes to age; the victim can be an adult, too.

Police officials warned that the specific phones targeted can be used by others besides the owners. "That's why they're sought after so much," 69th Precinct Detectives said. " With some of the other brands, the person who steals them can't really use them because of private codes, but TMobile, AT&T and Nextel are designed to allow anybody to use them."

Cops are therefore telling youngsters, especially, not to take those makes of cell phones to school with them. "These things are expensive," said one detective. "If kids are going to take the phones to school, parents should at least have them take the cheap ones."

On Monday of this week, proof of the viability of seeking the phones, by any means necessary, including assaulting the victim, were three robberies in a row, and all in broad daylight.

The first occurred at about 3:40 p.m. on Rockaway Parkway near Glenwood Road — one of the busiest sections in the community because of its proximity to the BMT subway station. Two teenagers accosted a 17- year-old boy and began arguing with him, with one accusing the boy of calling his friend a name. "Do you have a problem with my man?" he asked. Before the victim could reply, the second youth punched him in the mouth, knocking him to the ground. He then searched the victim's pockets and pulled out a T-Mobile Sidekick worth at least $300.

Both youths, described as black and wearing grey tee shirts, fled on foot in an unknown direction.

Later the same day, on Flatlands Avenue near East 79th Street, a young teen was walking near the C-Town Supermarket when a man accosted him. Police said the boy told them the other youth put his hand in his waistband and said, "I'm really 'bout to shoot somebody right now! Let me see what you have in your pockets... Now!"

The victim complied, and the thief took his T-Mobile, worth $150 and his Sim Card, worth about $35. The thief fled south on East 80th Street.

To top it off on that one day, only ten minutes later: 5:30 p.m., another youth was attacked near East 84th Street and Farragut Road by a teenager who put him in a headlock and said, "Run your pockets!" — meaning he should empty his pockets — at which time the boy displayed his $200 TMobile phone. The attacker took it and ran in an unknown direction. The victim was not badly hurt, police said.

Detectives repeated that youngsters and others should be more cautious when it comes to cell phones, warning again that they should steer clear of those three brands specifically because they could become targets of a robbery.

Anyone with information on the above robberies is asked to call the 69th Precinct Detective Squad at (718) 257-6215 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept strictly confidential.

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