New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Anatomy of a Subway iPod Theft

I recently witnessed an iPod theft on the subway, and here's how it happened. At about 7:00 p.m. a couple of Fridays ago I was in the first car of a very crowded Brooklyn-bound L train. I was heading home from work. The train stopped at First Avenue in Manhattan, and when the doors opened, I overheard a young woman say something like "No way!" Amid the crush of passengers getting out of the train, two figures started tussling with each other, spilling out onto the platform.

Through the window (I was on the inside of the train) I saw two people, a woman of twenty five or so and a high-school aged kid, struggling over something. At first I thought they were two high schoolers horsing around, because they were each about five feet tall or so, but when I saw the flash of a white iPod I also saw the woman's face. Suddenly it became clear what was happening.

The little dirtbag wrenched the iPod from her hands and took off running down the platform toward the exit. The woman took off after him, hot on his heels, dropping some kind of design magazine on the ground in the process. He really picked the dumbest of all possible places to attempt this theft, because the platform was extremely crowded, and he would have to run the length of it to make it out of the station to the street. Furthermore, there's an NYPD outpost at that subway station, a really stupid place to commit a crime like that.

I made my way to the door and poked my head out to see what was happening and help if possible, but apparently the conductor didn't notice anything amiss, because he shut the doors and we continued on to Brooklyn. The whole episode took place in less than ten seconds or so, and it seemed like much less.

So I don't know if the woman ever caught up to the thief, but I have to say I liked her chances. She had quite a defiant attitude, and seemed pretty determined. And the kid would have had to make his way through a very dense crowd, especially the bottleneck near the turnstiles. Even if he did get away, I think she showed him what a cockroach he is. I'm not sure the NYPD would advise everyone to take the course of action she did, but I was impressed with her spirit and quick actions. Go Girl, wherever you are.

I personally don't own an iPod -the one in the photo is Jenn's - but it's a good reminder that the moment of greatest peril is when the subway doors pop open. Always has been, whether it's purses, gold chains, or iPods. Stay aware out there, New York.


Blogger Ken said...

What if the kid has a knife? Is an iPod worth your life? There is technology out there that allow you to recover your devices after the fact (, I would prefer that approach than chasing thieves to who knows where.

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Blogger Ted Madsen said...


I was expecting the story to end with some martial arts .wav links with the rushing of air and the heavily exaggerated impact sounds… or for you exercising your “chi nah” skill to subdue the subject and return the I-pod to a thankful citizen while the subway population applauded around you... oh well it was probably me reading Marvel Comics Civil War mini-series that got me thinking that way. By the way I am reading a long way gone, memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah and I am having a hard time putting it down.


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