By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Multiple teens living at the Administration for Children’s Services building at 492 First Avenue have been arrested in connection with a number of separate robberies in the last week. Three teens arrested for choking and robbing a man on East 18th Street were also charged with a phone robbery in Chinatown and another group of teens were arrested after harassing a woman on the 6 train, police said. They reportedly grabbed her phone when she got off the subway in Kips Bay.
The three teens arrested for the violent robbery on East 18th Street attacked the man near Third Avenue around midnight on Monday, May 21, police said.
The victim told police that he was walking south on Third Avenue and was being followed by three men when he made a left turn onto East 18th Street heading towards Second Avenue. He said that one of the men then came up to him and asked for the time and after he said that it was 12:27 a.m., the suspect told him he had a gun and to give him everything he had. The victim said that he was then attacked from behind and choked, then lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness, he noticed that his property was gone.
Police caught the first teen at First Avenue and East 18th Street at 1:34 a.m. the same day. Police arrested a second teen for the robbery inside the 13th precinct the next day at 6 a.m. and a third teen at 6:30 a.m. inside the ACS facility in Kips Bay. Police did not find weapons on any of the teens that were arrested.
Once the three young suspects were in custody, police also connected them to a previous robbery in Chinatown in which they punched the victim in the back of the head, causing his head to hit the wall and causing a cut to his eye, swelling on his arm and a bruise on his knee. One person in the group then grabbed the victim’s iPhone from his hand while the other two teens acted as lookouts.
Two other teenagers were arrested last Wednesday, May 23 at 8:43 a.m. after a woman reported that they had stolen her cell phone when she was leaving the 28th Street 6 station. The victim, a public school teacher, was on a downtown 6 train in the same subway car as the teenagers, who were reportedly harassing her on the train while they were traveling from the Bronx.
The teens ultimately stopped bothering the woman for the duration of their ride after she told them to leave her alone but they got off the train at the same stop as the victim, and she thought they were continuing to harass her by following her.
Police said that the teens were actually walking towards the ACS facility but they got into an argument with the woman again after she confronted them about reportedly following her. This is when one of the teens threw a Pringles can at her, hitting her in the head, and the other boy allegedly grabbed her cell phone before they fled the scene, heading east towards Lexington Avenue.
With the help of a passer-by who allowed the victim to use his phone, she was able to track her device to 492 First Avenue, where the phone was recovered and the teens were arrested.
Representatives for ACS did not comment on any of the specific incidents, but spokesperson Marisa Kaufman said that the agency continually works with the police and members of the community on safety issues, including additional programming for teens at the facility, strengthened safety rules and increased staff training.
“We provide support and services to all children, including many who are in crisis,” Kaufman said. “We’re part of the communities where we work, and we’ve taken several concrete steps to ensure the safety of children in our care and others in our neighborhood.”
ACS formed a Children’s Center Safety Committee last October in conjunction with the NYPD, medical personnel and ACS Police. The agency is planning to hold a committee meeting with the NYPD and Community Board 6 next week, although the meeting is not open to the public.
ACS also recently created “safety rules for children” about conduct in and around the community and staff at the center regularly review the rules with children there. A Behavior Incentive Program has been implemented to encourage safe behavior, in addition to programming to encourage kids to stay on-site.
The agency implemented these programs relatively recently, although not in response to these incidents. The initiatives all began in the last six to seven months.
The facility on First Avenue, which functions as a center for children entering the foster care system, provides emergency shelter to children from birth to age 21, often including kids who have been abused and neglected as well as children who have nowhere else to go because their parents have been arrested. The center is meant to provide only temporary shelter for children for a few days but the agency previously reported that older teens often end up staying for weeks or months because it is more difficult to find foster homes for them than for younger children.
Three teens were also arrested at the facility last week for stabbing a 15-year-old girl, although it was unclear if the victim is a resident at the facility as well. Two girls and a boy reportedly stabbed the teen in the thigh in front of 390 Third Avenue near East 28th Street on Thursday, May 17 at 9:43 p.m. Two of the teens were caught later the same night around 10 p.m. inside the ACS building and the third was arrested inside the facility the following day. One of the teens was seen inside the ACS facility with the knife, trying to conceal it in one of the beds.
Two of the teens were also charged with weapons possession, but it was not immediately clear which teen stabbed the victim. The FDNY told Town & Village that they received a call at the time of the incident and the injury was reported as “non-critical” but the victim was no longer at the scene once EMS workers arrived so no further information about her condition was available.
The names of all the suspects are being withheld due to their young age and their exact ages were unavailable, although police said that the boys involved in the robberies were all 14 or 15 years old.