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Caught On Video: Thief With Scissors Cuts Open Sleeping Victim's Pocket On Subway

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It was a bold and quite personal theft on the subway.

The suspect used a pair of scissors and the victim never noticed. And the whole thing was captured on camera, CBSN New York's Lisa Rozner reported Tuesday.

Police said the incident happened on a northbound L train that the victim took from Manhattan last Wednesday.

A man wearing a blue hat is seen using the shears to cut into a rider's pants and remove his cellphone and wallet. Police said it happened just after 2 a.m. The 28-year-old victim got on at a 14th Street stop, but then fell asleep on the train. The NYPD said the incident happened as the train approached Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Subway Pickpocket Uses Scissors To Cut Out Wallet
(credit: NYPD)

"Wow, and this guy don't feel a thing and no one lets him know what's going on. But you gotta remember, this is New York. A lot of people try to mind their business and stick to their selves," straphanger Marc Jennings said after being shown the video by Rozner. "That's wrong, but people don't want to get caught up and hurt, and that is something that's not meant for them. You can get hurt minding other people's business, too. But that's wrong, though."

The suspect allegedly made two credit card purchases worth $68. The theft is considered a grand larceny, one of over 600 committed on the subway so far this year, the NYPD said. The Department added that while these types of crimes are down about 5 percent compared to this time last year, the number of arrests have skyrocketed nearly 23 percent. As many as 140 people have been arrested this year, compared to 114 during the same time frame in 2018.

"I think that we all have to be prepared for the worst. Just be vigilant and stay cautious," one woman told Rozner.

The theft of property from sleeping passengers is not uncommon. Police said suspects like the one seen on the video are known as "lush workers." Transit cops have a program known as "Shake and Wake," in which cops are instructed to wake sleeping passengers to prevent exactly this type of theft.

Over the last two years, police have arrested several career pickpockets, and it's not uncommon for some to prey solely on sleeping subway riders, Rozner reported.

Anyone with any information is asked to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by Tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

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