There are all kinds of ways to pull off a heist, from dressing up like a nun to commandeering a backhoe to breaking into a speeding van. But according to the NYPD, a band of thieves in New York is using a much simpler method—making friends with bargoers and asking to hold their stuff.
The group of alleged con artists struck at least four victims in the Lower East Side last month, making off with their phones, wallets, laptops, and credit cards, DNAinfo reports. In each case, the thieves have allegedly taken things from young men they've befriended at bars or while sharing a cab ride, in some cases after they've willingly handed their possessions over.
The latest ripoff reportedly went down on September 24, when a 28-year-old met a stranger at Hair of the Dog, a rowdy spot in the Lower East Side. After a wild few hours of pounding Jägerbombs or whatever, the two men hopped into a taxi at around 4 AM to hit up another bar, police said. The crook then asked for the 28-year-old**'**s phone and wallet, and for some reason, the guy just handed them over. A little later, he realized that his phone was gone and four of his credit cards were missing.
Earlier that month, three men allegedly buddied up with a "highly intoxicated" 23-year-old from Boston while he was walking out of the same bar, DNAinfo reports. One asked the tourist for his phone (so he could pass the Bostonian his contact info), and the other two asked him for his wallet. He too handed over his stuff, and only realized later that his phone had been stolen and his debit and credit cards were gone, police said.
In another similar incident on September 9, a 25-year-old hopped in an Uber with three dudes who asked him to tag along on a trip to a strip club. He turned them down, but wound up passing out in the car and woke up at about 4 AM to find he'd been robbed. That same night, a victim brought two strangers to his hotel room in the Lower East Side to "hang out," DNAinfo reports. He fell asleep while they were still in the room, and found that his laptop and cellphone had disappeared the next morning.
According to DNAinfo, the cops think all the incidents are connected, and that the same group of friendly bandits are to blame. Aside from rough estimates on the perps' ages, height, and weight—along with the fact that one goes by "Dominick"—the cops still don't have much info on their identities. The bizarre hustle just goes to show that you don't need to be some kind of criminal mastermind to pull off a successful heist. At the end of the day, maybe it's better if you're not.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.