As the Bronx enters the holiday season and technological devices become more common, theft is on the rise, but the New York Police Department is coming up with new ways to mitigate this threat.
The 49th Precinct has instituted a free etching program, for anyone wishing to have a devise registered. Etching consists of placing a serial number on any small or portable electronic device, typically behind the battery, including a cell phone, I-Pod, laptop, PSP, etc. The number is only visible under black light, and is linked to a roster in the precinct connecting each serial number to the proper owner.
“We are just trying to show people around the holidays how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of this type of crime and increasing the awareness of it,” said Officer Troy Doiley of the 49th Precinct.
Cell phones are one of the main targets according to police. The most common phones stolen include T-mobile Sidekicks, and other phones that use a SIM card.
“With the T-mobile Sidekicks its widespread throughout the Bronx. The phone is the choice for most robbers,” stated Doiley. “It’s a fad that’s going around and T-mobile has the SIM cards in the back so all you have to do it remove the SIM card and replace it with another to reactivate the phone.”
Doiley also stressed that with the new text-messaging craze, people who may be walking and typing are completely unaware of their surroundings, making them an easy target.
“When you talk on the phone you create a blind spot, and someone can run up behind you and you won’t even know it,” said Doiley. “Also, it advertises to thieves what type of phone you have.”
During this season, the precinct is also urging people to be aware of identity theft, defined as taking a persons identity information including name, date of birth, drivers license information, mother’s maiden name, bank account numbers, fingerprints, voice print, or retinal image code.
“Identity theft is free money for people,” said Doiley. “Some people, if they have the opportunity to take someone’s identity and use it up without being responsible for it, will do it.”
The 49th Precinct advises people to keep items such as credit cards, identification card, and cash in separate pockets. Women are advised to use pockets rather than a purse as well, and to keep a bottle of water in the purse for weight to deceive the robber.
In addition, the precinct asks people to continually check their bank statements, credit card bills, and to screen their credit report at least once a year. Cross cutting shredders should be used to destroy any documents or important information to ensure proper disposal.
Etching is generally available Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., call the 49th Precinct at (718) 918-2026 to confirm, the only requirement being the owner have an ID card. Office Doiley may also be available to show up at your home to perform the etching.