The pickpockets who work city buses are among the hardest criminals to catch. Utterly apart from their “jostling” skills-which are often substantial-they are usually extremely lucky; to find them, undercover cops have to be traveling on the right bus at the right time.
Fortunately, police were doing just that on Jan. 26, when Sergeant Benny Carbone and Officer Neil Hicks of the 19th Precinct’s grand-larceny team boarded a crowded uptown Madison Avenue bus-the kind “picks,” as the cops call them, like most-at around 6 p.m. and spotted their elusive quarry. They actually had a description of him from several previous victims.
“We see this gentleman get on the bus,” recalled Officer Hicks. “Right away, he’s looking at bags and he’s pushing his way towards the middle of the bus, where I was. He stops next to a woman, and I see him look at her bag. He puts his hand down and starts unzipping her purse.”
However, the thief got “spooked”-though not because he sniffed a cop, Officer Hicks asserted. He got off at Madison Avenue and 79th Street without taking anything. The police followed him, catching him as he was about to board a downtown bus at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street.
“He actually tried to enter the bus but backed off of it,” Officer Hicks said. “I guess it wasn’t crowded enough.” At that point, the cops moved in and arrested him for attempted pickpocketing. “He was definitely one of our big players on Madison Avenue,” Officer Hicks went on. “He did two years’ state-prison time for grand-larceny pickpocket in midtown, and he had six priors [arrests].”
Officer Hicks painted the arrest as almost as much a victory for his unit’s morale as it was for the precinct’s crime-fighting statistics, because they’ve had so much trouble landing bus pickpockets. “There are still more of them out there, but that’s what we needed,” the officer said. “We’re still getting hit, but we’re trying to control it.”
The cop explained that such thieves are so dexterous it’s hard to spot one unless you know what you’re looking for. “He was cool and well dressed,” the police officer continued. “Nothing stood out except his eyes. His eyes were wandering. If you don’t know what to look for, he’ll blend right in.”
The pickpocket, a 36-year-old Brooklyn resident, was arrested and charged with jostling.
The F.D.R. Drive is closed down on occasion, but the reason typically is a Presidential motorcade or flooding caused by inclement weather-not road rage, as was the case between 12:15 and 12:40 a.m. on Feb. 10.
Two violent incidents occurred on the F.D.R. within minutes of each other. In the first one, a blue Ford Explorer occupied by two men and a woman got involved in a dispute with a second vehicle, also occupied by two men and a woman.
While that might suggest the opponents were evenly matched, the team in the Ford Explorer enjoyed a distinct advantage in the form of a metal pipe, which they used to smash the other vehicle’s windshield and inflict lacerations on the faces of the passengers in the second car.
The police, who promptly responded to the scene, arrested all three perps, who reside in Elmhurst, Queens, for assault.
In the second incident, the weapon of choice was a knife, which was produced after the occupants of a blue Suzuki Sidekick found fault with the driver of a second vehicle. After assaulting him and giving him a minor abrasion, they fled as far as 139th Street and Seventh Avenue, where the cops apprehended them. A show-up was conducted and their victim, a 23-year-old York Avenue resident, positively identified his assailants.
In yet a third road-rage incident, a woman was driving down Fifth Avenue with her child in early January when another motorist, who apparently didn’t like the way she handled her car, made his irritation known by trying to run her off the road at 64th Street. When that didn’t succeed, he got out of his car and kicked her door.
But that wasn’t the end of it. His fury apparently far from spent, he disembarked from his vehicle again at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street and this time kicked the passenger side of her vehicle. “You fucking bitch!” he declared. “You drive like an animal!”
The perp departed for good at that point, apparently satisfied that his own behavior fell safely within the bounds of civilization.
The online auction site eBay provides buyers the opportunity to share opinions on the merchandise they’ve purchased and the people they’ve bought it from with their cyber brethren. But that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to say what you really think, as an Upper East Sider discovered on Feb. 8.
She told police that she’d purchased an unidentified item on the Web site but wasn’t thrilled with it, so she left negative feedback for all to read. The seller of the item, who lived in Miami, apparently didn’t appreciate her critique. So he requested her contact information-not to make her whole, but to menace her. Over the next two days, she says he called her eight times, cursing her.
The victim, a 32-year-old East 81st Street resident, shared her assailant’s phone number, which she got off caller I.D., with the police.
Follow Ralph Gardner Jr. via RSS.