Cops Warn of Muni Theft Ring

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM PDT
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Cops Warn of Muni Theft Ring

NBC

Bigger crowds and extra packages make the holidays a festive time for pickpockets.

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Here's a consolation to anyone with the misfortune to be riding Muni: now, you don't need to worry quite as much about getting robbed.

A suspected serial pickpocket was finally arrested this week after targeting riders on the 38 line. The 38 is one of the most crowded in the city, making it easy for sneaky fingers to find their way into purses and pockets undetected. Thirty thousand people use the line every day, and so far two dozen thefts have been reported.

Cops nabbed 30-year-old Eduardo Cuidad by watching surveillance cameras and planting plainclothes cops on buses. They then later apprehended him at his home. He's being charged with grand theft and possession of stolen property.

Conducting the sting required some effort: Muni security cameras are notoriously inoperative, so police and Muni had to work together to make sure as many cameras were functioning as possible. Throughout the system, many of the cameras are still purely decorative.

Police suspect that Cuidad had accomplices, and say that they have extracted valuable information from Cuidad during interrogations. They're now expanding their pickpocket bust to focus on more Muni lines. The 38 intersects a wide variety of lines, reaching from the Presidio to the Sunset to Downtown to Bernal Heights.

Lines that run through the downtown area are the most likely to get pickpocketing complaints, according to Muni.

Currently, one other individual is being investigated as part of the theft ring. Five others are suspected to be involved.

You can avoid being a victim on Muni by keeping possessions close, bags closed, and hands covering valuables when you're riding the bus. Or you could just not ride Muni.

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