The NYPD is dealing with an increasing number of thefts involving small electronics like cell phones and laptops.
But in the 104th Precinct, officials are saying there are increasingly sophisticated means by which people can protect their gadgets, get them back, and help police nab the thieves.
Speaking at last week’s meeting of the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol, Community Affairs Officer Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct said examples are Find My iPhone and other protective measures offered for small personal electronics.
“If you can get it, activate it,” Bell said. “Those apps are great. [Thieves] can’t clear it. You can’t deactivate it. And if you turn it on, it tells you exactly where the phone is. It’s crazy. And it’s no good if you don’t activate it.”
Bell said police had a recent case in which two men took a phone from someone walking at night. The crime was reported promptly, and officers on patrol spotted two men .
“One of then said ‘No, not us! Not me!’,” Bell said. “The officer said ‘Oh no?’ and activated the app. The phone rang in the guy’s pocket.”
Capt. Michael Cody, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, said many of the incidents occur when someone is using a phone on the street and someone else just comes up and takes it.
He also offered a few theft prevention measures that can be employed by even the most technologically inept city residents.
“Keep it out of sight,” Cody said. “Keep alert and aware of your surroundings.”
Bell said subways offer thieves some distinct advantages.
Bell said someone sitting near the door, listening to music, conversing on the phone or using a laptop device is likely distracted, thus presenting an easy target.
“Someone can grab it and by the time the fog clears he’s out the door waving you good-bye,” Bell added. “I never sit in a seat by the door. And I’m a cop and I carry a gun.”
In other GCOP business, President Frank Kotnik Jr. said parade permits, even for long-standing events and organizations, now are being subjected to far more scrutiny by the NYPD.
“There are going to be no more rubber stamps,” he said. “Even if the event has been going on for years.”