Stolen Strollers On the Rise in New York


graco-quattro-tour-and-metrolite-strollersBy Elissa Gootman

The  call came in at 12:55 p.m.: My stroller had been stolen. Yes, it was left outside, on a not-so-quiet street in Brooklyn. No, it was not locked up. Yes, I am fully aware of the fraught nature of complaining about the loss of a $400 stroller, one that epitomized privilege, and all that is loathsome about urban bourgeois parenting to begin with.

Still, when a friend responded to the news with an affectless “Well, did you leave it outside?” it seemed beside the point. It’s not as though I had left a tennis bracelet languishing on the stoop.

I called the New York Police Department’s public information office and asked a spokesman whether there was any numerical or anecdotal information indicating that this might be part of a trend.

“You said you’re with The New York Times?” he asked, skeptically. “What’s your e-mail address?”

He suggested that I put my “very unusual request” in an e-mail, but warned, “Your answer will probably be ‘we can’t accommodate you.’ ” Strollers that cost under $1,000 would be lumped in with other petty larcenies, he said, while those over $1,000 would be treated as grand larceny.

“We don’t have a Stolen Stroller Squad,” he said.

Agreed: It’s absurd. Or maybe it’s the perfect crime: Some strollers cost more than $1,000. They are often left outside, especially when the alternative is usually dragging them up and down a flight of stairs. They’re on wheels. They don’t have license plates. They’re everywhere. Given the full-priced alternative, $200 for a used stroller can seem like a bargain, accounting for the robust resale market.

And so, in parts of the world that I imagine to be less busy and more bucolic than my street in Brooklyn, strollers are disappearing.

“To the low life’s that stole my baby girl’s stroller on wednesday night: I hope you feel good about yourself for stealing from a baby,” a parent in Eugene, Ore., posted on craigslist last month, alongside a photograph of a baby nestled in a tan Baby Trend with pink flowers and a tray table.

In Niagara County, N.Y., a woman reported in May that her $500 stroller was taken from her car while she stopped in to check on the progress of construction at her new home.

In Toronto, Lindsay Taylor, a dad of two, tracked down his stolen stroller on craigslist, where it was posted at 3 a.m., hours after it disappeared from outside his home. He met the seller in a parking lot. “It had chalk marks my son had made,” he told The Toronto Star. “It was incredibly obvious.”

I checked craigslist. There were numerous listings for Phil & Teds strollers like mine in New York City. But I was not going to meet anyone in a parking lot.

I did start mulling the question of who really was the victim here. Clearly it was not the baby, who would be just as happy or colicky in a worn hand-me-down, but the parents, who by definition not only can afford a $400 stroller but are also so cavalier about it that they leave it outside, unattended and unlocked.

Could there be just a touch of Robin Hood here, with thieves stealing from the wealthy and middle-class purchasers of things brand new, then selling those things back to the slightly less wealthy and middle-class craigslist trawlers, turning a profit along the way?

Is the idea of a $400 stroller so outlandish that, on some level, those who have so lost sight of their own privilege as to leave one unattended almost deserve to be robbed? (But my stroller was a double! And we do a lot of walking! On bumpy sidewalks!)

There is something about the theft of this particular item that hits parents where we’re most vulnerable, in that cavity where uncertainty (wait, how am I suddenly the parent here?) collides with fear (what if something truly terrible actually happens to my child?). Where our sense of compassion for others – so desperate that they would risk the punishment and humiliation of stealing something so cumbersome – is eclipsed by outrage that is myopic, yet somehow feels righteous.

It’s the same vulnerability that leads to the sale of $400 strollers in the first place.

In an e-mail following up on my initial inquiry, Detective Cheryl Crispin, a police spokeswoman, wrote that stolen strollers were “not a problem here in the city, period.”

“I believe it was a problem out West,” she wrote.

Or maybe I’m not the only victim who declined to report this crime, even though my failure to do so violated my own sense of justice and community responsibility. Did I have lunches to pack for the next day? I did. Realistically, did I think the police were going to chase down the perpetrator? I did not.

Neither did Annette Mendoza Atteridge, who didn’t notify the police when her jogging stroller was stolen from the front porch of her home in Coral Gables, Fla., four years ago. After a trip to Disney World during which her husband missed all the rides because he was busy guarding the replacement stroller, Ms. Mendoza-Atteridge invented the Buggyguard. It’s a retractable stroller lock – shaped like a bow-tie wearing pig, monkey, panda or hippo – that clips onto the stroller and can be used to fasten it to a gate, or just to lock the wheels in place. The lock is $19.99 at BuyBuyBaby.

What, you say? Something else to buy? Now, there’s a solution.

{NY Times/ Newscenter}


  1. Our double stroller was just stolen last week in Cedarhurst park in long island! We used it once and after putting the kids in the car we turned around and it was gone. If anyone saw anything pls respond.

  2. Lock your stroller up whether you leave it outside a store or in front of your house or anywhere you won’t be watching it,just like you wouldn’t leave a bike or a pocketbook unwatched.

  3. Stealing a stroller is low. They dont just steal the stroller they steal the change of clothes, diaper and bottles that your baby needs and that is low.


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