Stroller Trollers

R’wood Couple Stole From Shopping Moms

Police slapped the cuffs on a Ridgewood couple last week for swiping valuables from women shopping with their young children across the borough in more than a dozen thefts dating back to August, it was announced on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Luis A. Chango, 45, and Rosa Jerez, 37, both residents of Palmetto Street, were locked up last Saturday, Nov. 8, and appeared in Queens Criminal Court on Monday night, Nov. 10 for arraignment on multiple counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth- and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, third-degree identity theft, endangering the welfare of a child and petit larceny.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Donna Golia ordered Chango held on $12,500 bail and Jerez remanded on $7,250 bail; they are scheduled to return to court on Dec. 4. Chango and Jerez could serve up to 38 and 23 years, respectively, behind bars if convicted.

Chango and Jerez were charged in eight separate incidents in which they worked together, while Chango was additionally booked for eight incidents in which he acted separately. Authorities said they allegedly removed valuables left on or hanging from baby strollers that the victims pushed while shopping.

“In some cases, one of the defendants is alleged to have distracted their victims by engaging them in conversation or shielding their accomplice’s actions by stepping between the victims and the stroller,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Tuesday. “In another instance, it is alleged that [Chango] simply bent over a stroller and pulled a new iPhone out of the hands of the baby playing with it, causing the child to burst out crying.”

During the joint larcenies, which occurred between Aug. 9 and Nov. 8, Jerez reportedly engaged the victims in conversation or acted as a lookout and shielded Chango as he swiped cell phones, wallets and cash from pocketbooks left on the stroller or within the victim’s jacket.

The most notable incident, which Brown alluded to in his statement, occurred on Sept. 27 at the Mandees clothing store located at 56-26 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood. Police said Chango allegedly stole an iPhone out of the hands of a baby in a stroller, who had been playing with the device.

Security camera footage reportedly captured Chango and Jerez fleeing the scene after the child began crying.

The couple is also charged with:

– removing a cell phone from a 35-year-old woman inside Carter’s children’s store located at 37-26 82nd St. in Jackson Heights on Aug. 9;

– taking a cell phone from a 34-year-old woman inside Carter’s children’s store located at 57-31 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood on Aug. 25;

– swiping a wallet, a Peruvian identification card and $2,000 in cash from a 38-year-old woman’s purse at the V.I.M. store located at 37-25 Junction Blvd. in Corona on Sept. 13;

– stealing a wallet containing credit cards from a 29-year-old woman’s purse inside The Gap clothing store at 37-32 82nd St. in Jackson Heights on Oct. 1;

– removing a cell phone from a zipped pouch belonging to a 32- year-old woman inside the Seafood Grocery Store at 330 Linden St. in Bushwick, just over the Brooklyn/Queens border line, on Oct. 10;

– swiping a cell phone from a 25-year-old woman’s jacket pocket inside the Carter’s store in Ridgewood on Oct. 10; and

– removing a purse containing a credit card from a 20-year-old woman inside the Old Navy clothing store at 34-03 48th St. in Woodside on Nov. 8 (the credit card was later used to buy a 30- day unlimited MetroCard worth $113).

In six other cases between July 25 and Sept. 5, prosecutors said, Chango acted alone and stole cell phones, wallets or pocketbooks that were left on a stroller or carried by the female victim.

The first two thefts occurred on July 25 at the Carter’s store in Jackson Heights, in which Chango allegedly stole a wallet from inside a baby bag that a 32- year-old woman left on a stroller and a cell phone that another 25- year-old woman left inside her purse, which was also kept on the stroller.

Chango is additionally charged with stealing a cell phone from a 28-year-old woman at the Xios store located at 37-12 82nd St. in Jackson Heights on Aug. 1; swiping a pocketbook containing a debit card from a 19-year-old woman at the Payless Shoe Source located at 37-70 Junction Blvd. in Corona on Aug. 23; removing a cell phone belonging to an 18-year-old woman inside the V.I.M. store in Corona on Aug. 24; and grabbing a wallet from a 33-year-old woman’s bag inside the Carter’s store in Jackson Heights on Sept. 5.

Brown strongly advised all shoppers to be “especially mindful of pickpockets and purse snatchers” as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.

“Shoppers should never leave bags or valuables unattended or hanging from strollers, and they should always be aware of their surroundings,” he added. “A successful pickpocket only needs seconds to accomplish his or her goal of parting you with your valuables.”

Members of the NYPD Grand Larceny Division-Sergeants Joseph Cappelmann and Sean O’Hara and Police Officers Troy Prescod, Patrick Hughes and Eric Velez-conducted the investigation, under the supervision of Chief Kevin Harrington, Inspector Joseph Dowling, Capt. Terrence O’Toole and Lt. Robert Rattigan.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Marnie Lobel of the DA’s Special Proceedings Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Anthony M. Communiello, bureau chief, and Oscar W. Ruiz, deputy bureau chief.

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