Pickpocketing On The Rise, Cops Say

Local cops are facing a resurgence of pickpocket-related thefts over the past few months, and buses appear to be the thugs’ preferred venue.

The revelation came during last night’s 61st Precinct Community Council meeting, when Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas said that a slew of career criminals are back on the streets and targeting mass transit users.

Pickpocketing was a major problem when Mastrokostas took command of the precinct in 2008, he said. A crackdown in his first two years put many of the offenders behind bars. But now they’re back on the streets and returning to old habits.

“These are professionals that are doing this,” he said. “They are career criminals that have multiple arrests for the same offenses over and over again.”

The Kings Highway bus routes are where the highest number of incidents have occurred, and the precinct is ramping up enforcement in the area. Armed with a familiarity of many of the key players they previously locked up, the precinct is putting plainclothes officers on buses and at bus stops to guard against the theft.

“We’re deploying. We know the areas where we’ve got to concentrate. And we know a lot of the players right now,” the deputy inspector said.

Most of the victims have been women, whose pocketbooks make an easy target. The criminals strike when the bus is crowded. The precinct is reminding the community to be aware of their surroundings and keep their belongings tightly guarded.


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