2011-12-23 / Top Stories

Stolen iPhone Buyers Busted

Police have arrested two men who work in Far Rockaway stores as part of a large police probe that resulted in the arrest of 141 individuals at convenience stores, newsstands, delis, barber shops and other commercial establishments throughout the five boroughs.

Police say that the suspects eagerly purchased high-end electronics such as Apple iPhones and iPads from people who supposedly had stolen the items and were willing to sell them cheaply, but who were, in reality, undercover police officers.

The arrestees were all charged with criminal possession of stolen property.

The two Far Rockaway arrests took place inside the A Line Deli, at 21-15 Mott Avenue, and the Genesis Deli, at 25-11 Far Rockaway Boulevard, both of them in close proximity to subway stations, where many of the thefts have occurred.

“This was a two-prong approach to apprehend both thieves and receivers of stolen property,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. “Suspects at both ends of the equation are learning the hard way that ‘victims’ and ‘sellers’ may in fact be undercover police officers.”

Precincts throughout the city were surveyed for problematic commercial establishments, including places suspected of receiving stolen property in the past.

Undercover officers fanned out across the city, entered the stores and offered merchants what they clearly stated were stolen goods at fire sale prices: Apple iPhone4s and Apple iPad2s sold for between $50 to $200 each. A few of the sales took place on street corners but the majority were consummated inside the commercial establishments.

In all, 42 arrests were made in Brooklyn, 41 in Manhattan, 31 in the Bronx, 21 in Queens, and six on Staten Island. The stings, which began last Tuesday and continued through late last week, followed stepped-up decoy operations in the subway, to capture thieves stealing hand-held electronics from inattentive riders. The popular items had driven up the number of larcenies in the subways.

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