NYC Residents Be Alert: Subway Thieves Now Preying on Sleeping Riders, Steal Cellphones and More

The sound. The sensation. Sleepiness on the subway.

You’ve most likely been there after a long day at work, school, or any other activity. Taking a seat on the train, you begin scrolling through your phone, and as the subway moves onward, your eyes become increasingly heavy.

You’re suddenly awake. Your phone is gone. Your apps, photos, contacts, and personal information are all gone as well.

Unfortunately, you would not be alone in experiencing this, and the NYPD is warning about the trend.

“It has one of the lowest rates of theft. If you think about it, someone is innocently sleeping. “They can’t even defend themselves, and you’re just taking their stuff,” said Sgt. Jason Bernfeld, one of the heads of the NYPD’s Transit District 20 plainclothes unit.

The squad has been riding trains throughout Queens at night, where the drowsy crime trend is on the rise, seeking for thieves and providing a wake-up call to passengers.

NYC Residents Be Alert: Subway Thieves Now Preying on Sleeping Riders, Steal Cellphones and More

“It’s more than simply enforcement; there’s outreach. We’re not only there to stop and ticket folks. We’re also here to help and educate individuals. “And keep an eye on people,” Bernfeld explained.

The I-squad from News 4 followed the law enforcement squad on their patrol of the subways. In less than an hour, the team woke up around ten riders across numerous Queens subway lines. The team will approach a sleeping passenger, begin capturing the exchange with their body camera, and then rouse the straphanger.

Bernfeld approached a slumbering straphanger and warned him of what could happen.

“Hello, how are you doing? Sorry for bothering you. NYPD. Just so you know, I am recording, OK?” Bernfeld informed the traveler. “Just be careful napping on the train. You’ve got your bag out. We had a lot of thefts of individuals sleeping.”

Police say the robbers are after a specific subway shopping list.

“Cell phones are massive. I mean, cellphones are so inexpensive. Next, wallets with cash or credit cards. “Jewelry,” Bernfeld explained. “Something easily accessible with jewelry, they’re not taking a ring that’s gonna be hard to get off someone sleeping — but if it’s a loose necklace, gold chain or something like that.”

The team also underlined that seating selection is important. Those sitting near a subway door should be especially vigilant: thieves will rapidly grab a phone and flee the train before the rider realizes what has happened.

“The doors open; the doors close. If I am sitting here, my phone is in my hand, my laptop is on my lap, and I am near the door. It is quite simple for someone to jump in. Grab it and run. Bernfeld stated, “Before I even realized what had happened, the door closed, and I can’t even get after that person.”

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