Bronx Bust: NYPD Nabs 7 in Migrant-Led Cellphone Robbery Ring Raid

According to the NYPD, a group of migrants involved in a citywide robbery pattern were the subject of a Bronx raid on Monday morning, which resulted in the arrest of seven of them.

Police suspect they are a part of the group behind a pattern of cellphone robberies occurring throughout the city. According to authorities, some of the stolen items were found during the raid.

According to police, it all begins with thieves riding about on scooters stealing people’s iPhones, which they then break into to access banking applications.

One incident seen on surveillance footage has a suspect on a scooter grabbing the victim’s bag and hauling them outside.

A raid and multiple arrests were made at an apartment in the Bronx’s Allerton neighborhood on Monday as a result of the investigation. Three more suspects have warrants issued for them by the police, and they think there may be more out there.

Police Claim a Migrant From Venezuela Was the Mastermind of a Robbery Ring

Videos released by the NYPD depict criminals operating in pairs on mopeds, pulling on and frequently toppling over unsuspecting victims in an attempt to get wallets, purses, and iPhones.

In an apartment at 2790 Bronx Park East, which was described as a stash house or headquarters for a broad, multi-borough cellphone heist enterprise linked to over a dozen suspects, police officers made many arrests alongside Mayor Eric Adams. Police claim that a large number of them are migrants.

“These small number of people are breaking the law and are having a huge impact on our public safety, and that is why we zeroed in on them,” Adams stated. “We’re not going to sit idly by while people choose to prey on their fellow New Yorkers.”

“This administration, police department, we’ve always talked about welcoming asylum seekers. But once you start robbing people and stealing from them, your status is criminal, and you’ll be treated as such,” according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner Tarik Sheppard.

“It doesn’t matter if a person is a migrant, asylum or if the person is a long-term New Yorker. You break the law, it’ll be investigated, and it will be handled by our criminal justice system,” Adams said. “You should not be allowed to walk the streets of the city of New York if you are committing any form of criminal behavior that’s impacting the quality of life of New Yorkers.”

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, the alleged ringleader Victor Parra’s apartment was the scene of the arrests. Police stated that Parra is still at large.

“So in recent months, a wave of migrant crime has washed over our city. But by no means do the individuals committing these crimes represent the vast number of people coming to New York to build a better life. But they are, nonetheless, preying on New Yorkers and making our city less safe,” according to NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban.

The police commissioner claimed that the fact that the suspected migrants, in this case, had very little documentation—no social media accounts, no criminal history in the United States, and occasionally, he claimed, it can be challenging for authorities even to verify a suspect’s name or birthdate—makes the case especially challenging to solve.

“I want to reiterate the overwhelming number of 170,000-plus migrants and asylum seekers are attempting to continue their next leg of their journey of pursuing the American dream. But those who commit a crime will be treated like any other criminal in this city. No different mindset, no different reaction, no different response from the police department,” according to Adams.

According to Authorities, Thieves Employed Scooters for Snatch-and-Grab Crimes

“We believe the individuals involved have been involved in 62 robbery incidents across our city, including our transit system. Including riding on mopeds, scooters, and snatching property of New Yorkers, such as iPhones and wallets. These individuals do not have a license to steal in our city,” according to Adams.

According to Adams, the number of unlawful mopeds and scooters that the NYPD recovered last year was over 2,500, a 74% rise from the year before.

According to Joseph Kenny, chief of detectives for the NYPD, “The crimes in this pattern involved multiple thieves on mopeds, snatching cellphones and purses from victims. These thieves would ride up behind their victims on the sidewalk, steal their property, and then make their getaway. The majority of the victims are women, simply just walking alone. We have seen that the mopeds used in these crimes are also stolen as well.”

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In New York City, scooters and mopeds are becoming the preferred modes of transportation for thieves.

The NYPD has been on the attack, pursuing what it says as roving groups of illegal scooters, such as the ones employed in this ring, and CBS New York had an exclusive look at it back in July.

“Mopeds and scooters are being used for crimes and harming innocent people. I want to be clear, again, the law is coming for those who use mopeds illegally,” Adams said.

The most recent robbery occurred on Sunday night in Chinatown, according to police, and the pattern began on the Upper East Side in November 2023.

“This network of thieves predominantly live in the migrant shelter system. They use social media platforms to organize and coordinate their thefts,” Kenny said.

Parra would post the request on WhatsApp, according to the authorities, and the burglars and scooter drivers may be strangers.

“Once the messages are received, the crime wave begins, with the scooter operators making $100 a day, and the actual phone snatcher making between $300-600 per phone that is stolen,” added Kenny.

After being presented with the pilfered phones, Parra employed a “tech guy who is able to hack into these stolen phones, where he gains access to the victim’s banking and financial apps,” according to Kenny.

The suspects were allegedly grabbing phones because they were drawn to payment programs, such as Apple Pay, according to investigators. Suspects, according to detectives, utilized credit cards connected to phones.

Bronx Bust NYPD Nabs 7 in Migrant-Led Cellphone Robbery Ring Raid

According to Kenny, authorities have identified 14 members of the team so far, and seven of them have been taken into custody. It’s anticipated that further arrests will occur.

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According to the authorities, there has been no connection established between the individuals detained and the recent attack on two NYPD officers in Times Square.

The thievery ring, according to some Bronx dwellers, disturbs them, especially for their most vulnerable neighbors and loved ones.

“I’m very scared, and my mother, she’s right there, and it’s very scary for the older people, too,” said Bronx resident Pamela Colon. “It’s not right what they’re doing.”

A “National Problem,” Adams Adds

“This is a national problem. We need a national solution, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans have blocked real immigration reform for many years. It is time for us to deal with this real issue that’s impacting cities, not only New York,” Adams said. “This is a national problem that’s impacting cities. And our message is a clear one: Over 175,000 migrants and asylum seekers that have arrived here, this is 12 people. So any New Yorker that looks at those who are trying to fulfill their next step on the American dream as criminals, that is wrong. That is not what we’re seeing. The overwhelming number of migrants and asylum seekers want to work. They want to contribute to our society. They believe we have put a pause on their progression on contributing to our society. We should not in any way take these criminals and state that they are the indicators of the people who are here.”

“This is not about migrants and asylum seekers. It’s about criminals who committed a crime. And we would treat criminals the same if they’re longstanding New Yorkers, or if they just arrived here last year. These are criminals that we brought to justice,” Adams said.

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