While no location in the city immediately comes to mind as being off-limits to crime, there are nonetheless certain areas that the savvy criminal knows are best to avoid. These include the frozen zones that the feds flood with Secret Service agents and cops during a Presidential visit and perhaps a Police Department promotion ceremony or, for that matter, the lobby of a station house, especially during a shift change.
Add to that the well-trafficked plaza in front of Hunter College at Lexington Avenue and 68th Street. It’s an urban space at its most successful, with students coming and going to class, hanging out on the benches and flirting, and fruit and hot-dog vendors plying their wares. The plaza is also patrolled by the college’s security guards, not to mention the cops from the 19th Precinct which, conveniently, happens to be located right around the corner on 67th Street.
In other words, it’s not a great place to steal a bike, as one perp tried to do at 6:10 p.m. on Feb. 21. And it wasn’t as if the bike in question had simply been abandoned there by some lackadaisical college student gone to class. It was locked to a bike rack in front of the school.
The thief, apparently either believing he’d be lost among the plaza’s commotion or merely thinking himself one lucky dude, pulled out a bag of burglars tools and set to work in plain view of a police officer who was patrolling the area. The cop introduced himself and arrested the suspect, a 45-year-old resident of 2288 Second Avenue, for burglary.
These Seats Are Taken
Motorists with sufficient faith in humanity to park their cars on the streets of New York should be applauded. However, they also shouldn’t be surprised if they return to their vehicles and discover a hubcap missing or even a bumper, radio, airbag or spare tire gone.
But the driver who returned to his 1999 Lexus at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, no matter how street-smart, could be forgiven were he taken aback by what he discovered. The complainant, who was parked at Lexington Avenue and 87th Street and who’d just left his health club, opened the trunk of his vehicle and found it to be far roomier than he remembered.
After a moment, he figured out why: His two back seats were missing. The victim, who placed their value at $1,800, told the police he wasn’t sure how they came to be gone, but he admitted that he may have left the back window open when he left his car.
One can certainly applaud the impulse not to toss a thief to the ground and stand on his larynx when you find him stealing from your store. On the other hand, you don’t want to give him the impression that you’re a pushover, as a security guard at Luca Luca, a boutique at 690 Madison Avenue, may have done on Feb. 8.
The guard had just returned from making a delivery at 6:50 p.m. when he spotted a shoplifter, a male approximately 25 years old, helping himself to a couple of the store’s premium-priced sweaters and placing them under his coat. The guard apparently recovered the property but didn’t take the logical next step, which would have been to sit on the perp’s chest until the cops arrived. Instead, he let him and a young lady, with whom he was shopping or rather, shoplifting depart.
After they’d gone, one of the sales clerks took inventory and discovered that the suspects hadn’t given up all their booty after being caught. Four sweaters were missing from the store’s shelves, including two red Sbilenca sweaters valued at $690 each and two black Rosa sweaters priced at $620 apiece.
The perps fled in an unknown vehicle northbound on Madison Avenue.
Turnover is admittedly rapid in the information age, with few people surprised these days by reports of pedestrians traipsing in off the street at some dot-coms, claiming a desk and collecting salaries, pensions, bonuses and back rubs, even though nobody has ever seen them before.
However, even by those relaxed standards, the gentleman who visited a business at 770 Lexington Avenue on Feb. 23 didn’t pass the smell test. One of the company’s partners returned to the office around 2:40 p.m. and realized the front door was unlocked.
Upon entering the office itself and noticing the cabinets open, he assumed his fellow partners were inside. But he didn’t recognize the individual he met there as one of those working to make the company grow.
The suspect, described as 27 years old, claimed to be cleaning and indeed he was, in a manner of speaking: He and an accomplice, who had apparently already departed, were cleaning the business out. The perp pushed past the victim with some sort of equipment in his hand. But then, thinking better of it, he dropped it, sprinted to the door and exited through the fire escape.
After he’d departed, inventory was taken and the company discovered it was missing several I.B.M. ThinkPads, the company’s projector, a $150 gift certificate and a MetroCard. Perhaps because the date of the crime was a Friday, the perps were casually dressed: One was wearing a black baseball jacket while the other sported a military field jacket.