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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 21, 2023

Viral NYC arrest video connected to theft, not sleeping in public, police say

If Your Time is short

  • The people under arrest in a viral social media were charged with theft, according to New York police. They weren’t detained for sleeping in public, and the video provides no evidence that they were. 

  • Learn more about PolitiFact's fact-checking process and rating system.

"Wow," someone exclaims off camera in a video that shows two people being handcuffed and having their backpacks removed in front of a New York City Target store. 

The events  unfold in front of what looks like low and wide painted barricades. 

"Undercover NYPD swarm and arrest two young people for sleeping on concrete blocks a few blocks from Times Square," a description of the video in a Sept. 17 Instagram post says. "The NYPD has a track record of criminalizing homelessness and violently arresting the unhoused, especially in tourist hot spots." 

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

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We emailed the New York Police Department about the video and a spokesperson sent a statement that said the arrest took place at 10:58 p.m. Sept. 14 in front of 237 W. 42nd St. That’s the address of a Target store near Times Square.

"The suspects entered the above location and removed a victim’s bag containing foreign currency, credit cards, personal documents and personal items without permission or authority to do so," the statement said. "The suspects were apprehended without incident and charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny." 

The video does not include footage of the men sleeping on concrete blocks or any other evidence to support its claim. 

We rate claims they were arrested for sleeping in public False.


Our Sources

Instagram post, Sept. 17, 2023

Statement from the New York Police Department, Sept. 21, 2023

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Viral NYC arrest video connected to theft, not sleeping in public, police say

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