True Crime

Spate of Attempted Robberies Hits NYC Startup Offices Onswipe and Shelby.TV

Gird your iPads.
 Spate of Attempted Robberies Hits NYC Startup Offices Onswipe and Shelby.TV

Onswipe’s office. (Photo: Michelle Young, Untapped Cities)

A few weeks ago, Betabeat caught wind of a handful of attempted robberies that had taken place at startup offices around the Flatiron area. On a visit to his office, Onswipe CEO Jason Baptiste told us that a few men who looked to be in their early 20s had come to Onswipe claiming to be soliciting money for a sports team. Instead, they attempted to steal some of the company’s iPads.

According to a police report filed by Onswipe and obtained by Betabeat, three men entered Onswipe’s offices on West 14th Street on Thursday, July 26 at 4:40 p.m.

Onswipe’s office is essentially one big loft-like space, with a few conference rooms scattered around the periphery. The company has iPads displaying various websites that employ the Onswipe experience lined up in the reception area. According to the report, the alleged thieves lifted four iPads and attempted to conceal them before an office manager asked for them back. The thieves returned them and left. According to the report, one suspect, a 19-year-old male, was arrested a few weeks later on August 15.

Onswipe isn’t the only startup office in the area to be hit with an attempted robbery. Shelby.TV also experienced a similar issue. Were these robbers watching TechStars or something?

“From what I know of the situation, they came in, said they were raising money for their football team or something, and tried to look around quite a bit,” Shelby CEO Reece Pacheco told Betabeat. “Luckily my team is very alert and just said ‘not interested’ and sent them on their way before they were able to do anything.”

Mr. Pacheco said that those at Shelby believe the perps to be the same ones who hit Onswipe. “They came to our office the same day that they hit up the seventh and eighth floors in our building,” he told us. “And one of the people on those floors knew of them because of a connection to Onswipe.”

The attempted robberies seem particularly noteworthy in light of recent escapades by Silicon Swindler Shirley Hornstein, who duped Valleyites in part by relying on the tech scene’s trusting and collaborative atmosphere. It’s convenient to think of Startupland as a happy, shiny place where people focus on iterating their butts off, slinging business cards as effortlessly as they throw back mugs of Lost Tribes beer. But there’s a fine line between being open and being gullible. Luckily, both Onswipe and Shelby were able to successfully protect their businesses from what could have potentially turned out to be thousands of dollars in property loss.

Has your NYC office been the target of an attempted robbery? Let us know: tips[at]betabeat[dot]com.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com