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Crooks target teens with cell phones

The Brooklyn Paper
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Now that school’s back in session, teen-on-teen crime is in full effect.

The top crime – stealing cell phones.

“Most of the time the victim is walking and texting and they’re coming up behind and snatching it,” Deputy Inspector John Sprague, the commanding officer of the 62nd Precinct, said at a Community Board 11 meeting in Bensonhurst.

It’s the most expensive phones with the fanciest gadgets that are being swiped, like the Sidekick, BlackBerry and iPhone.

To prevent cell phone theft, the 62nd Precinct has expanded its vehicle identification number (VIN) etching program to include cell phones.

Police officers use a blue light pen to write a special serial number onto the inside of the phone’s battery. This allows phones that are stolen to be identified and returned to their rightful owners.

Sprague says every cell phone found on a suspect is scanned with a special ultra-violet light able to detect the VIN number. The blue light pen makes the number invisible to the human eye.

Cops hope the VIN etching program will deter would-be thieves from stealing cell phones, especially since those caught with stolen phones could face charges of criminal possession of stolen property.

During the last school year, the 62nd Precinct registered 300 cell phones from students at New Utrecht High School and I.S. 96 Seth Low Junior High School in Bensonhurst.

Similar VIN etching programs are available for bicycles and automobiles.

To VIN etch a cell phone, contact the 62nd Precinct at 718-236-2611 or call 311.

—Michèle De Meglio

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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