Thieves in SUVs stealing pricey jewelry from NYC seniors

The NYPD is investigating two separate but oddly similar crimes of thieves in SUVs stealing jewelry from elderly people on the street last month.

Thieves pretending to be tourists visiting from the United Arab Emirates stole a necklace right off an 87-year-old man's neck and swapped it with a cheap knockoff in Queens on Thursday, June 16, 2022, New York City police said. 

This is how they did it: The thieves, who were in a white Jeep Grand Cherokee with a covered license place, drove up to the man, who was standing in front of 81-17 190th Street near Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows. They started chatting with him to draw him closer and told him they were tourists from Dubai, police said.

Security camera video shows the man standing close to the Jeep and the driver reaching for the man's necklace, unclasping it and at one point removing a hat from the man's head.

Police said the driver then put a fake gold necklace around the man's neck and drove off. 

The NYPD also released a security camera video showing a similar heist on Staten Island on Sunday, June 26.

A white Jeep Cherokee pulled up to an 81-year-old woman waiting at a bus stop on Clove Road in the Grasmere section and started a conversation to draw her closer, police said. Once she was within reach, someone in the Jeep took some jewelry from her and drove off, the NYPD said.

Although a white Jeep was used in both crimes, police said the Queens incident involved a Grand Cherokee while the Staten Island incident was with a Cherokee. Also, the videos show some differences between the two vehicles. 

Police said they are investigating the thefts as grand larcenies, which under New York law means the man's necklace and the woman's jewelry were each worth more than $1,000.

Grand larcenies are up nearly 50% so far this year compared to the same time in 2021, according to NYPD statistics.  

With The Associated Press.