Getting stolen cellphones & iPads returned

By KAITLYN MEADE  |  Cell phones are the most common type of stolen property in New York City. Every week brings a new case of electronics theft, usually from an unattended bag on the back of a chair or snatched from a commuter’s hand in the subway.

Mobile devices accounted for about 40 percent of robberies in the city in 2012, the New York City Police Department reported last year. And cell phone theft is on the rise with increases in grand larceny by nine percent citywide and a three percent increase in Manhattan South.

The N.Y.P.D. launched the Operation ID program in 2011 to combat this, and would like to remind residents that the program, which registers electronic devices, is an important part of protecting personal belongings. On Feb. 18, 2013, they brought it to the South Street Seaport.

The free program registers the serial number of portable electronics in a police database along with the owner’s name and contact information. Devices can also be engraved with an NYC serial number specific to the database.

This makes the property more difficult to sell if it has been stolen. It also allows the police to identify stolen property and to trace it back to its original owner. When police make an arrest, they will then run the serial numbers of electronic devices to see if any of them match a number is the database. If so, they will be able to return the device to its rightful owner.

Police are urging residents to register not only their cell phones but also iPads, E-readers and G.P.S. devices. The next Manhattan Operation ID drive is Feb. 20 at the N.Y.U. Medical Center at 400 East 34th St., followed by the Verizon store at 2818 Broadway on Feb. 21 from 1-3 p.m. Drives are ongoing all year round. For more information, contact the Crime Prevention Section of Community Affairs at 646-610-5323.