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iPhone 5 sale draws big crowds in Hudson Valley

Sonja S. Wong poses with a new Apple

Sonja S. Wong poses with a new Apple iPhone 5 outside the Apple Fifth Avenue flagship store on the first morning it went on sale in New York City. Customers lined up for days to purchase the hotly anticipated device which went on sale nationwide today. (Sept. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Mario Tama

Anxious customers poured into Apple Stores across the Hudson Valley Friday, eager to be among the first to snatch up the company's highly anticipated iPhone 5.

"Finally! It's one of the best days of my life," gushed Angel Vincent, 24, of Yonkers, as he stood outside the Apple Store Friday morning in The Westchester mall in White Plains.

Initially, Vincent went to the Ridge Hill Mall in Yonkers, but when the store ran out of the much-coveted smartphone, he sped to White Plains.

"I got in the car and I drove over here. I almost got pulled over by the cops. It was crazy," he said.

Vincent was one of scores in a line of buyers that snaked through The Westchester Friday. Shortly after the mall opened at 8 a.m. Apple employees began handing out numbered claim tickets to those in the middle and end of the line, worrying customers that they would be not be taking home a new smartphone.

Mario Seguero, 24, and Rebecca Rivera, 23, both from Bronx, hoped they didn't make the trip for nothing.

Rivera said she got up at 6 a.m. and called in sick to work Friday.

"She's only here for the media," said Seguero, explaining that when the iPhone 3 came out, Rivera told him, "We can get in the papers." Now they go to iPhone releases for the media attention -- and, of course, to buy the latest smartphone.

Andrew Kagan, 24, of Scarsdale, who inched up to the front of the line, joked: "I really can't think of a good reason why I'm here."

In Yonkers, lines began forming around the Ridge Hill Shopping Center's outlet about 6 p.m. Thursday, News12 reported. As the doors opened at 8 a.m., hundreds of consumers cheered and were ushered into the store by cheerful Apple employees.

Police in the town of Poughkeepsie said the Apple Store in the Poughkeepsie Galleria asked that officers check in periodically to ensure things are running smoothly and there is no "apple picking," as thefts of Apple products are sometimes called.

Clarkstown police said Palisades Center mall operators usually notify them when they need extra patrols, but they hadn't heard from the mall and had no plans to increase security.

In New York City, the NYPD stationed officers at local Apple stores as a deterrent to thefts and to register serial numbers and contact information for owners in case their devices are stolen.

Worldwide, customers formed long lines Friday at Apple stores in Asia and Europe.

In London, some shoppers had camped out for a week in a line that wrapped around the block. And in Hong Kong, the first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one by one through the front door.

The smartphone went on sale in the U.S. and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later.

The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.

The handset has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is glitch-prone. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.

Not everyone lining up at the various Apple stores was an enthusiast, though. In Hong Kong, university student Kevin Wong, waiting to buy a black 16 gigabyte model for $720, said he was getting one "for the cash." He planned to immediately resell it to one of the numerous gray market retailers catering to mainland Chinese buyers. China is one of Apple's fastest-growing markets but a release date for the iPhone 5 there has not yet been set.

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