Robbing a Cop Is a 'Badge of Honor' for Muggers, Convict Reveals in Shocking I-Team Survey - NBC New York
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Robbing a Cop Is a 'Badge of Honor' for Muggers, Convict Reveals in Shocking I-Team Survey

Christopher Ellington's interview was part of a groundbreaking I-Team/Telemundo series based on surveys send to hundreds of convicted robbers in New York and New Jersey

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    Christopher Ellington's interview was part of a groundbreaking I-Team/Telemundo series based on surveys send to hundreds of convicted robbers in New York and New Jersey. Sarah Wallace Reports.

    (Published Thursday, March 2, 2017)

    What to Know

    • The I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga sent surveys to hundreds of people serving time for robbery in New York and New Jersey prisons

    • A whopping 70 percent of muggers were always or sometimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed robberies

    • Surprisingly, a majority of muggers didn't have a preference as to the sex of their targets, though 43 percent said they targeted men

    When it comes to career thieves, there's nothing like robbing a cop. Or so says convicted mugger Christopher Ellington.

    The 32-year-old Harlem native is serving a 10-year sentence at Coxsackie Correctional Facility in upstate New York for mugging three people in midtown Manhattan over three nights in 2012. He says he has only been convicted of that spree, but has committed dozens of robberies.

    One, in particular, stands out. 

    Years ago, Ellington said he targeted a police officer in Harlem because it was a badge of honor for young teens to go after a cop. 

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    In an unprecedented crime prevention project, the I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga sent surveys to hundreds of convicted robbers in New York and New Jersey asking them questions about how they pick their targets and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim. Sarah Wallace reports.
    (Published Friday, Feb. 3, 2017)

    "If you got a cop, you were the man on the block. I crept up behind him and put him in a chokehold," he said. "I took everything. I left the gun."

    Ellington was one of many convicted robbers to respond to a questionnaire the I-Team sent to hundreds of inmates in December as part of a joint project with Telemundo to help you avoid becoming a mugging target -- or victim. 

    See full coverage of the series, including survey results and other interviews, here. 

    He and another inmate that the I-Team previously spoke with at Greenhaven Correctional Facility, David Solano, said that plainclothes NYPD officers were included on their long lists of victims. Solano says he ambushed and robbed an officer without knowing that he was in law enforcement.

    "I grabbed him from behind. I went in and thought it was his wallet but it was his badge, so I took his badge and gun," he said. "About two or three months later, he saw me at the precinct and said, 'yo, I remember you'."

    The 49-year-old convict said he was sure the officer never reported the theft. If he were the cop, Solano said, he wouldn't tell his colleagues if a robber stripped him of his badge and gun. 

    Solano previously told the I-Team though that it didn't matter who he mugged -- just what he could get out of it. 

    Warning Signs You're About to Be Mugged

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    Mayco Castro is serving a 9-year prison sentence for handcuffing, pistol-whipping and robbing a man in the hallway of an apartment building in 2013. Castro said he shadowed his victim for a week before he robbed him and an I-Team survey sent to the most hardened muggers and street robbers in New York and New Jersey shows this is common. Convicted muggers also said they sought to distract their victims before robbing them and didn’t care if they were caught on surveillance cameras. Chris Glorioso reports.
    (Published Friday, Feb. 3, 2017)

    For Ellington, the adrenaline rush was paramount. He said there was a certain thrill in knowing he could be caught at any moment.

    "You're robbing the people, and the adrenaline is, 'Oh my God, I know I can get caught'," he said. "When you don't get caught for a while, you tend to get bold."

    The career criminal said he always carried a weapon, including guns, knives, brass knuckles and crow bars. 

    "It was like a job to me, it was seven days a week," Ellington said. "I was my own boss, I made my own schedule."

    "You get hungry for keeping up a lifestyle with your friends," he added. "I didn't just want a penny in my pocket, I wanted to have a couple of hundred [dollars]."

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