The NYPD was chasing down a thief recently in a manner so intense, one officer described it as “seriously like a movie.” But it wasn’t a case of grand theft auto, missing jewelry or a bank robbery. It was a snatched iPhone.
The theft occurred as many do. A woman was using her iPhone while on the street in Flushing, Queens, when a teen in a yellow hoodie ran by grabbing her smartphone and kept on booking it down the road, the New York Times described.
Flagging down on officer, the woman and the NYPD quickly used his phone to log into the Find My iPhone app, which showed the thief was only a block away.
Officer Haaris Hamid and a sergeant in an unmarked car quickly drove to the location to which the cellphone tracking app was leading them. Here’s where the plot thickens — turns out it was an elevator down to the subway …and the train had just pulled away.
Now the chase was on. Hopping back in the cruiser and refreshing the app’s tracking, the Times described how the officers eventually phoned in an order for the conductor to hold the train at the next station.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy,’” Hamid, who has been in the force for seven years, told the Times. “It was seriously like a movie.”
When law enforcement finally got on the train to start searching, Hamid recognized a man from Flushing.
“I go, ‘Sarge, that’s him,'” Hamid said, albeit the man was wearing a blue sweatshirt, not yellow.
The kicker is that when they asked where the suspect was coming from, he said Brooklyn.
“The No. 7 train makes exactly as many stops in Brooklyn as it does on Uranus,” the Times wrote.
The final test — call for the phone. It rang. Turns out the suspect, 19-year-old Jordan Osborne had a yellow hoodie in his backpack.
It is events like this that led New York City police to create a smartphone squad and partnered with Apple to track down stolen iPhones using the device’s tracking number. For example, when an iPhone is stolen, Apple can report to police where the phone is located, even if it’s been switched to a different carrier.
Police said the city’s overall crime rate last year increased three percent mostly due to the more than 15,000 thefts of Apple-related products – a majority of them iPhones – said Paul Browne, a police spokesman.
“We would’ve had a one percent decrease in overall crime if you subtracted the Apple thefts,” said Browne, adding that police have coined the phenomenon, “Apple-picking.”
“We’re trying to protect the orchard, so to speak,” Browne said.
He added that police often use officers as decoys using their own iPhones to catch would-be robbers and stings to catch those who sell them on the black market. About 75 percent of the stolen devices stay within the city’s five boroughs and some have been tracked down as far as the Dominican Republic.
In addition, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has been working with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, the FCC and CTIA, a trade group for wireless providers, on the national stolen phone database, along with six of the largest wireless companies.
New York is not alone in its troubles with cellphone thefts. In fact, almost one out of three robberies nationwide involves the theft of a mobile phone, according to the FCC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image via pio3/Shutterstock.com.