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New Yorkers see pressure cooker bombs, walk away with a new suitcase

A mangled dumpster sits on the sidewalk on

A mangled dumpster sits on the sidewalk on September 18, 2016 in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. An explosion in a construction dumpster that injured 29 people is being labeled an 'intentional act'. Credit: Getty Images / Justin Lane-Pool

If you see something, steal something. That ultra-cynical but oh-so New York motto may have saved some lives Sunday.

The post-9/11 mantra, “If you see something, say something,” got turned upside down this weekend.

According to media reports, two improvised explosives believed to have been built and left in separate locations by Chelsea explosion suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami were discovered, and one was disabled, by people rifling through the bomb bags for booty.

According to law enforcement sources, two passers-by found a rolling suitcase on West 27th Street, examined the contents, then took a pressure-cooker bomb out and put it on the sidewalk before taking the bag.

The move apparently disarmed the bomb, potentially saving lives. It also kept intact the cellphone attached to the bomb, helping investigators. This all happened less than a quarter-mile from the explosion on West 23rd Street that injured 29 people.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey Sunday evening, police say, a backpack resting on top of a trash can near a train station was taken by two people who, upon investigating the contents and finding five bombs, called the cops.

Across the world, New York City and its neighboring environs have the reputation of being tough, street-smart places. But now it looks like evolution.

Three hundred years of ever-increasing awareness of their surroundings has left New Yorkers with keen instincts for finding the terrifyingly dangerous, out-of-place element — then disassembling it and stealing the good parts.

This post originally appeared in The Point, a daily newsletter by the Newsday editorial board.