A Queens couple was charged with a string of pickpocketing attacks, allegedly going after women with baby strollers, the Queens district attorney's office said Tuesday.
The husband-and-wife team, 45-year-old Luis Chango and 37-year-old Rosa Jerez, allegedly targeted more than a dozen women, between 18 and 38 years old, shopping with babies from August to November 2014, Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement. The couple was charged with multiple counts, including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and endangering the welfare of a child.
"The defendants are accused of targeting stores where young mothers shopped and focusing particular attention on those women with baby strollers," Brown said in a statement. "A successful pickpocket only needs seconds to accomplish his or her goal of parting you with your valuables."
In many of the incidents, one person would allegedly distract the women by striking up a conversation while the other grabbed their property, Brown said. In one instance, Chango allegedly reached into a stroller and grabbed an iPhone 6 straight from a baby's hand, but when the baby started crying they quickly left, he said.
They allegedly attacked inside several Queens stores, including Mandees, The Gap., and Old Navy, Brown said. Thay allegedly went after at least one woman inside a Brooklyn seafood store near the Queens border.
Both were arraigned in Queens criminal court Monday evening. Chango was held in liu of $12,500 bail and Jerez in liu of $7,250 bail, Brown said.
"The allegations are false. There are many allegations that don't even make sense," said Roger Asmar, whose firm represents both Chango and Jerez. "These are just allegations. We're going to look into the case and the truth of the matter."
The couple has three daughters together, Asmar said, and has lived in Queens for several years. Chango works as a carpenter and Jerez works cleaning homes, he said. Their daughter served in military, Asmar said.
Asmar said he intends to fight the charges and alleged that investigators pressured Chango for several hours, threatening him to write his name down on several screenshots taken from videos.
If convicted, Chango faces up to 38 years in prison and Jerez faces up to 23 years, he said.
Chango and Jerez are expected back in court on Dec. 4.