BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Police are seeking the public’s help in tracking down a group of moped-riding, wireless headphone-stealing bandits who have struck at least 21 times so far this year in Manhattan.
According to police, in each case, the individuals ride up on mopeds behind their victim and snatch a pair of Apple AirPods Max headphones right off of his or her head. No injuries have been reported. The average value of the stolen headphones is $500.
The victims — slightly more females than males — range in age from 18 to 41 but mostly are in their 20s.
A total of four males are being sought in the grand larceny pattern. They roll on two mopeds, one red, one black, two guys per vehicle. The rear passenger on the moped simply swipes off the headphones and they then make a speedy getaway.
Sported by influencers like Kylie Jenner and @tinyjewishgirl and hyped on social media, the retro-ish, chunky, Bluetooth, over-ear headphones are considered a must-have “techcessory” and status symbol among some Millennials.
According to an article in Byrdie, “For those who grew up in the era of earbuds, the chance to adopt the over-the-ear look is something novel.”
“I purchased them when they weren’t ‘cool’ on TikTok,” Telegarta, an “unboxing” influencer (she opens packages), told the outlet. “The noise cancellation feature is superior. It tunes out the world and allows you to be in your own bubble.”
However, while the tunes might sound good, being tuned-out in your own bubble doesn’t play too well while walking around the mean streets of New York City.
In the first incident, the rolling headpone robbers struck in Chelsea on Sat., Jan. 28, at 5:35 a.m. at Ninth Avenue and W. 26 Street, targeting a 22-year-old man for his Apple AirPods Maxes.
The next reported robbery was on the Upper East Side on Sun., Feb. 5, at 4:12 p.m. at Third Avenue and E. 58th Street, where a 29-year-old female suddenly lost her AirPods.
The AirPod-loving pod then motored over to the East Village on Wed., Feb. 8, at 3:40 p.m., where at E. 11th St. and Second Avenue Avenue they poached the pods of a 30-year-old woman.
OBSESSED! But boy do they cancel out noise hahahah i had no idea what u sounded like when they were on
Ten minutes later they had whisked down to Soho, where at 3:50 p.m. at Wooster and Canal Streets, a 27-year-old woman was their next victim.
On the same day, at 4:15 p.m., the microtransport-riding robbers were just south of Washington Square Park, lifting a 29-year-old woman’s AirPods from her head outside 227 Sullivan St.
Continuing their busy day on Feb. 8, around 4:30 p.m., they were back in Chelsea, at 115 W. 23rd St., stealing a 20-year-old guy’s headphones.
Fifteen minutes later, they were down on Lower West Side waterfront, grabbing wireless headphones from a 29-year-old man at Morton and West Streets.
On Feb. 9, they were back zipping through the East Village, where at 4:35 p.m., a 29-year-old woman walking at 244 E. 14th St. suddenly found her ears no longer sporting AirPods Maxes.
Around 5:15 p.m. the same day, at Third Avenue and Ninth Street, they victimized a 41-year-old man.
Not to leave out Tribeca, on Feb. 9, at 5:15 p.m., they zoomed up behind a 23-year-old woman at Reade and Church Streets and left her AirPods-less.
The following day around 7 p.m. in Stuyvesant Square at Rutherford Place and E. 16th Street, a 25-year-old man was targeted by the moped riders.
Soho was the next hunting ground for the Apple AirPods Max grabbers when, on Feb. 10 at 7:20 p.m., they swiped a set of high-tech headphones off of a man, 38, outside 579 Broadway.
Three hours earlier, while zooming past the new New York University Paulson Center, they freed a 20-year-old woman of her pricey wireless headphones.
On Sat., Feb. 18, they were back on the Upper East Side around 3 p.m., stealing a 23-year-old man’s AirPods at 57th Street and Second Avenue.
Twenty minutes earlier they were in Hell’s Kitchen, at Sixth Avenue and 37th Street, swiping AirPods from an 18-year-old female.
Taking a spin through Central Park before they hit Hell’s Kitchen, the moped crew pulled their usual M.O. on a 34-year-old woman at East Drive and the 86th Street Transverse.
Heading Uptown, just after 4 p.m. the same day, they stole an 18-year-old woman’s AirPods at 1 Morningside Drive, at W. 110th Street.
Also on Feb. 18, a very busy day, they were also in Kips Bay, where a 23-year-old woman was relieved of her headphones at Third Avenue and 23rd Street around 3:35 p.m.
They also struck on the Upper East Side that same day, including plucking a 26-year-old woman’s AirPods around 2:40 p.m. at Madison Avenue and 59th Street, and removing a 21-year-old male’s headphones 15 minutes later at Park Avenue and 77th Street.
Finally, also on Sat., Feb. 18, in their eighth score of the day, the wireless headphone wranglers swooped up behind a 19-year-old woman in Chelsea at Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street.
Police released surveillance video of two of the alleged thieves after the incident outside the N.Y.U. Paulson Center. The video was obtained from Washington Square South and LaGuardia Place, where the individuals are observed on a black moped. The passenger gets off the moped holding two pairs of Apple AirPods Max headphones and enters Washington Square Park. He is wearing a black bubble jacket and black pants. The individual operating the black moped then drives into Washington Square Park. He is wearing a black helmet, a black hooded jacket, black pants and tan shoes.
Police also provided an image of the individuals with both of the mopeds used throughout the robbery pattern.
Police are asking anyone with information on either incident to call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the Crime Stoppers Web site at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter at @NYPDTips. Tips can result in cash rewards of up to $3,500. All tips are strictly confidential.
Not a good idea to walk around and not be able to hear. You must always be on the alert of your surroundings through hearing and sight, especially with the way things are in the city.
Excellent reportage on the wireless wranglers!