Thief Knew Right Time For Consulate Break-In
Foreign consulates-bristling with armed security guards, closed-circuit TV’s and state-of-the-art alarm systems, or so you’d assume-wouldn’t appear to make tempting targets for burglars. Nonetheless, one dropped by the Lebanese Consulate, at 9 East 76th Street, on May 24.
This is the third visit by crooks to Upper East Side consulates in recent weeks, though the incidents appear unrelated. On April 20, a Brooklyn man was caught as he tried to escape from the Indonesian Consulate after he was interrupted trying to swipe electronics equipment. And on April 13, the wife of a French diplomat was startled when an unknown intruder tried unsuccessfully to gain entrance to their first-floor residence.
In the latest incident, an unknown perpetrator broke into various rooms of the Lebanese Consulate and removed four silver wristwatches. After discovering signs of a break-in, consulate employees, who live in the building but say they heard nothing, alerted the police officer who guards the mission. The officer is posted outside, due to what the NYPD describes as “random daily demonstrations.” However, the officer isn’t on duty between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., when the burglary apparently occurred.
The cop immediately searched the building and discovered that a small safe, the watches and various other unspecified items had been taken. Drawers had been pried open in several offices, and a large safe tampered with. Windows were also left open, though there was no sign of forced entry.
A canvas of the area by the police turned up nothing. The 19th Precinct detective squad and Crime Scene Unit also responded to the scene. Fingerprints were taken, and a hammer was found and vouchered as evidence. Surprisingly, the consulate has neither surveillance cameras nor an alarm system.
Building a New Society
This reporter has never understood why the Asia Society, at 725 Park Avenue, a perfectly respectable and reasonably new building, needed to be gutted. Apparently, a crook who visited the Society on June 6 feels the same way.
The thief helped himself to enough construction material to create a second (or is it now a third?) Asia Society from scratch. His booty included 65 boxes of bamboo flooring, 21 boxes of ceramic tiles and 200 metal wall furrings. For those unfamiliar with the building trades, furrings are strips attached to walls to form a level surface to which things like wallboard are then attached.
An Asia Society worker told the police that he discovered the missing property on both the first and third floors. He suspects the thief likely had permission to be on the premises-though not, of course, to rob it blind. The Society, he noted, has round-the-clock security guards as it undergoes construction.
A Cop’s Life
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade went off gracefully, according to police officials and Mayor Giuliani (if one overlooks that little post-parade unpleasantness between the cops and local residents in the Bronx), but it was not without its moments of interest for the officers at ground level.
One scooter cop assigned to parade-day duty found the NYPD’s “CPR” (Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect) motto tested to its limits when a voluptuous young underwear-averse female in a car in front of him, undoubtedly swept away by the festiveness of the event, unbuttoned her dress in an altruistic desire to share her eye-catching anatomy-every little bit of it-with the crowd.
In fact, the officer only became aware of the sensitivity of the situation when the car in question stopped at a traffic light at Madison Avenue and 64th Street and was promptly engulfed by a bevy of amateur documentary film-makers.
“There were about 50 people surrounding the car with camcorders,” the cop reported. “Now the light turns green and people are beeping their horns. Of course I had to take police action.”
As light-hearted and frisky as the young lady’s behavior seemed, the officer was fully aware of what happened after last year’s parade when the Mardi Gras atmosphere spiraled out of control.
“I pulled the car over to the side of the road,” the officer continued, “and instructed the operator of the vehicle,” who, fortunately, was someone other than the stripper, “to make sure her passenger was appropriately dressed and used her seat belt.”
The officer added that the curvaceous culprit gave him a winning smile and thanked him for his time before the vehicle took off, undoubtedly to spread good cheer further uptown.
The officer, on the other hand, couldn’t go with them to make sure they obeyed the traffic laws, and not because his jurisdiction ended at the 19th Precinct boundary line at 59th Street. Rather, he had his hands full (no pun intended) with a second unscheduled holiday-parade float.
He was forced to read the riot act to a second young lady, dressed in nothing but a thong, that he spotted mooning passersby from the window of a Ford Explorer in the vicinity of 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, her posterior protruding from a rear window and creating an obvious traffic hazard.
“I had to tap her on the back and instruct her to sit,” he sighed amicably. “I said, ‘If you keep that up, you’re going to cause an accident.’ There were a lot of freaks out there, a lot of freaks. It was interesting, to say the least.”