The New York City Police Department stationed officers at Apple Inc. stores Friday morning as the iPhone 5 went on sale to help buyers register their new devices so they can be traced if stolen.

The NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau deployed officers at the company’s six New York City stores, as well as seven Verizon Wireless and eight AT&T Inc. locations, where they will register serial numbers of new devices along with the owner’s name and contact information, according to a statement.

Earlier this year, the NYPD deployed patrol officers with technology that allows them to locate stolen iPhones and other stolen Apple products and make arrests.

“I’m glad they’re there,” said Jessica Mellow, 27, a model and artist who was one of the first 10 people in line this morning at the Apple Store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. “I’ve had three phones stolen.”

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is poised for a record iPhone 5 debut and may not be able to keep up with demand as customers lined up in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and New York to pick up the latest model of its top-selling product.

Global sales started at the Apple Store in Sydney’s George Street, and began in New York at 8 a.m. local time. With a new wireless contract, the device costs $199, $299 or $399 in the U.S., depending on the amount of memory.

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More than 250 of the devices were stolen from a store in London about seven hours before they were scheduled to go on sale, Metropolitan Police said. About 190 were taken from three outlets in western Japan’s Osaka prefecture earlier today, Kyodo News reported, citing the police.

Metropolitan Police issued images of a 23-year-old man who works as an assistant at the 02 Store in the Tandem Centre in Wimbledon in connection with the London thefts, according to a statement.