Holy Cow! Where’s The Babe’s Slugger?

Opening day at Yankee Stadium on April 2 was almost as heart-stopping for the folks at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore as it undoubtedly was for their institution’s namesake in the prime of his career. A Louisville Slugger that the Babe had once used was on its way to opening-day festivities when it went missing for several hours.

One of the museum’s trustees told the police that she placed the historic piece of hardwood in the trunk of a light blue or gray Lincoln Town Car in front of 303 East 83rd Street. She then realized she was in the wrong car and switched to a black Lincoln Town Car. However, the bat got left behind in the first car. She didn’t realize it was gone until she reached Yankee Stadium, where the bat was to be used in a Fox TV Network story promoting the museum.

The bat was recovered after what Mike Gibbons, the director of the Babe Ruth Museum, described as “a couple of minutes of consternation.” However, another museum employee put the time-frame during which the Hall of Famer heirloom was out of pocket at “a few hours.” It was found in the back of the first Town Car after the museum contacted the car company.

The bat had been used by Ruth but wasn’t autographed by him. Mr. Gibbons declined to put a value on it, other than to describe it as “significant.”

Blood on the Racks

James Blandeburgo is one of those community-policing cops who knows his neighborhood so well that he notices immediately when things are not as they should be-for example, a perp tossing a rock through the window at the Gianfranco Ferré boutique at 845 Madison Avenue on April 7.

The suspect entered the store by smashing a stone through the store’s reinforced front window at 6:08 a.m. and then helped himself to $18,786.79 worth of merchandise. However, he cut himself during the course of the burglary and left copious amounts of blood splattered around the location. A trail of clothes was also found leading west on 70th Street, in the direction of Central Park.

Officer Blandeburgo got on his police radio and broadcast a message to the Central Park Precinct suggesting they be on the look-out for somebody schlepping a large quantity of designer clothing and bleeding profusely.

The first person to spot somebody fitting that description wasn’t a cop, however, but a passerby who informed the Central Park Precinct command post that a suspicious male had just passed her on the south end of the Sheep Meadow carrying the aforementioned clothing and bleeding from his hands. Minutes later the cops moved in, and Officer Blandeburgo had the honor of arresting the perp in approximately the same location. The cop-whose crime-fighting instincts are apparently as good in the wilds of Central Park as they are amid the soaring condos of the East 60′s, his normal hunting ground-promptly found the stolen, blood-stained Gianfranco Ferré merchandise behind some rocks.

The burglar, a 39-year-old man whose address wasn’t known, was removed to the 19th Precinct, and an ambulance was called to treat his hands. But his health problems didn’t stop there. While being removed to New York Hospital, the suspect began to suffer respiratory distress. He was admitted to the hospital, where he was treated for asthma, alcohol intoxication, cocaine intoxication, cuts and complications from HIV.

A possible explanation for the crook’s distress presented itself after his identification was discovered in a pack of cigarettes he was carrying. A computer search of his name revealed he’d been arrested 45 previous times for burglary and larceny. In fact, he’d been arrested in 1997 for a similar burglary at the Ferré store.

It seems unlikely he’ll be able to argue this as a case of mistaken identity. An evidence collection team from Patrol Borough Manhattan North responded and managed to recover what were described as “numerous” fingerprints and blood samples.

Shirt-Sighted

In another sartorially related crime gone awry (but at least without the unsightly mess), a shopper-or, more accurately, a shoplifter-helped himself to a $155 Dolce & Gabbana men’s shirt at Barneys on April 3 which he apparently had no intention of paying for.

The suspect filched the fashionable garment from a sales rack and then tried to conceal it under his jacket. He may have been emboldened by the fact that he didn’t see any store dicks in the vicinity. What he didn’t know was that one was watching him on the store’s closed-circuit security video camera.

As the perp tried to leave the store through its 60th Street exit, an assistant manager stepped up and introduced himself. The shoplifter, a 33-year-old Rockaway resident, was charged with petty larceny.

First-Degree Xeroxing

It’s easy to become overly reliant on technology-and that applies to thieves as much as to geeks, as a recent incident at the Banana Republic store at 1136 Madison Avenue suggests.

A pair of crooks, though of the office-copier rather than the gun-toting variety, visited the store with photocopies of original store receipts “with intent to defraud Banana Republic,” according to the police.

A Banana Republic employee said that the perps would steal merchandise, then return it for cash after making multiple photocopies of a single, apparently legitimate receipt. The ruse was discovered when the 19th Precinct anti-crime unit, which had the suspects under surveillance, spotted one of the thieves in a car outside the store making copies of receipts on a machine in the back of the vehicle.

And this wasn’t one of those hand-held portable devices, either. “They had an office machine,” the Banana Republic employee reported. “They were running it off the cigarette lighter.”

The inventive crooks, an 18-year-old and a 23-year-old Brooklyn resident, were charged with forgery, and the cash they’d received and the photocopying machine were removed to the station house as evidence.