Texting leads to student’s stolen cell phone

William Morse

“My brother wants his phone back. Willing to pay for it.”

That text led campus police to a woman in possession of a smart phone stolen days earlier from a City College student during a violent robbery on campus.

The incident began with the student, identified by campus police as a male in his 20s, walking northbound on Russ Boulevard around 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 with a female friend and a Samsung smartphone in his hand.

As he looked away, the male suspect punched him in the eye, grabbed his phone and ran away. The victim fell to the ground but was not seriously injured, according to Sgt. Jordan Mirakain.

He contacted campus police, who issued a campus crime alert.

The victim had an application on his phone which allowed him to lock it remotely so it could only send and receive texts.

A few days later, the victim’s sister sent a text to his phone. It said that the phone was her brother’s and that they wanted it back, even if they had to pay for it.

A person responded to the text, saying that they would meet them at a taco shop on the corner of Euclid and Imperial avenues. Mirakian said the police refer to this area as “the four corners of death.”

The victim and his sister then contacted campus police.

“You had a crook who just wanted to make an easy 100 bucks and they didn’t think that they would have a victim contact law enforcement,’’ said Mirakian.

Mirakian added, “And it’s my opinion that if they had shown up they would have gotten robbed a second time.”

Police followed the sister to the taco shop, observing from their cruiser next to Lincoln High School.

The sister texted the stolen phone requesting the person who had it to raise his or her hand so she could identify them. When a woman did so, police descended on the parking lot of the taco shop.

The police questioned the woman holding the phone about where she acquired it. She claimed that she found it on the bus and that someone had texted her offering $175 for it.

She was detained, but not arrested due to insufficient evidence. Mirakian explained that the woman had been in the system before and that based on her guarded answers, the burden of proof transfers to the police.

“Even though we didn’t apprehend anyone, we consider this a win because the victim just wanted his phone back,” concluded Mirakian.