By Stephanie Phelan
Thefts at the Pier 40 soccer fields have become the focus of the Sixth Precinct and Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP).
As of early this month, there have been 32 larcenies, including 20 grand larcenies (theft of anything over $1,000 in value or of a credit card) involving valuables taken from players’ bags left lying around the playing grounds. The items that have been stolen, according to Sixth Precinct Crime Prevention Officer Robert Jackson, include computers, iPods, credit cards and cash.
Many people go directly from work to play soccer, rugby or lacrosse and have not had the time or opportunity to drop their valuables off at home before coming to play. Naturally, the players’ attention during games has been on the game, not on their briefcases or bags, and thieves have been able to grab valuable items while no one is looking.
Several weeks ago, Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) provided a bin for players to drop their personal items in during games and asked the leagues to bring along an extra person designated to watch the bin. This does not address the problem of the many people arriving to play pickup games and have no one appointed to watch their belongings.
According to Officer Jackson, HRPT has promised to provide lockers for which each player can bring his or her own lock. When WestView tried to confirm this and to find out when those lockers would be delivered, we were told by HRPT spokesperson David Katz, Vice President in Charge of Media and Events, that HRPT knew nothing of this, that as far as he knew, providing the bin was the only step that would be taken.
We further contacted the Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) to find out if the possible lockers were in their bailiwick, but at the time of publication, have not heard back from them.
Assuming that lockers will not be provided at any point in the near future, it’s up to anyone using the fields to leave their valuables at home or bring a non-player along to watch over them during the games.
If you suspect anyone of checking out unattended property, make note of their description and call 911.
According to Sixth Precinct Community Affairs Officer James Alberici, it’s just not safe to bring valuables until HRPT provides a safe place to store them.
Smarten Up—Thieves Can Strike Anywhere
The Village is a place for people to come and have fun — hang out at bars and cafés, talk and laugh with friends, and have a good time.
That good time will turn into a bad time very quickly if you leave yourself open to theft.
Some tips from NYPD:
• Be alert to your surroundings when out in public. Thieves love to target distracted people.
• Never leave your bag hanging over the back of a chair, on the chair next to you or on the floor, especially in outdoor cafés. It takes a fraction of a second for someone to grab it and you might not even be aware of the theft right away.
• Never carry your wallet in your rear pants pocket — it’s easily accessible to pickpockets.
• Carry your purse or computer bag close to your body. Never wrap a pocketbook strap across your body. If someone really wants to take it, you could be badly injured as they throw you down on the ground to wrestle it from you. Your safety is more important than the possessions you carry.
• Be aware of someone distracting you while a partner in the scheme picks your pocket or grabs your belongings.
• Cafés, especially outdoor cafés, are prime locations for theft. Don’t leave valuables on the table or bar while you’re talking or turning to get the waiter’s attention.