The Crime Blotter

Was That a Gun In His Pocket, Or … ?

One of the mainstays of a life of crime is what the cops describe as a “simulated weapon.” The perp insinuates that he possesses a gun by drawing attention to a hand hidden in a pocket or a suspect bulge in the vicinity of his belt, and his terrified victim pretty much gives him the benefit of the doubt and accedes to his demands, whatever they happen to be.

Not so one feisty cashier at the Gristede’s at 1180 Second Avenue on Aug. 14. When a menacing robber visited the store at around 9:15 p.m. and stated, “Give me all the money,” the supermarket employee wasn’t impressed.

“Show me a gun,” she replied, “and I’ll give you what you want.”

Crooks often simulate weapons because they aren’t actually carrying them. This isn’t because they’re afraid of guns, or because they can’t get their hands on one-heaven knows that, with the possible exception of dietary supplements and self-help books, there are few things easier to score in our consumer society than a smart little handgun to show you mean business-but because if you’re arrested with a gun, you’re likely to find yourself in even deeper shit than if you were caught without one.

Luckily for this crook, however, he wasn’t pulling her leg. He produced a black semi-automatic handgun from his pants in the vicinity of his belt (the cops somehow believe it may have been a Colt; it’s not known whether this is based on their own deductions after debriefing the victim, or because, as a typical New York City grocery- store employee, she is held up so often she can distinguish one gun-maker’s product line from another) and stated, “Here’s the gun. You think I’m playing?”

At that point, the cashier forked over $1,035 because, according to the police (in their terse idiom), she “was fearful perp would use firearm.”

The villain fled on foot westbound on 62nd Street. His description-a male black around 30 years old, 5 feet 9 inches and 200 pounds, and right-handed, no less-was broadcast citywide at 9:20 p.m., and a canvas of the area was done with the victim, all with negative results.

The Stripper

Without desiring to cast aspersions on our esteemed and virtuous outer boroughs, stripped and abandoned vehicles are more commonly associated with the highways and byways of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx than they are with, say, 73rd Street between Lexington and Third avenues. However, that’s where one such eyesore was discovered on Aug. 3 by a doorman who works on that block.

“The whole inside is stripped,” marveled Police Officer Ronald Diz as he stood before the beleaguered vehicle. “Whoever did this did it for parts.”

One couldn’t help but be impressed by the thieves’ handiwork. While the car in question was described as a 1993 Honda Civic, it bore about as much resemblance to that sturdy little workhorse as an exhumed skeleton from the Middle Ages does to the poet who once inhabited those bones. The dashboard was picked clean; the entire back seat was gone. Indeed, it was a marvel that the vehicle managed to make it to the Upper East Side at all, let alone find a parking space.

“Another vehicle could have towed it here,” Officer Diz speculated.

The cops ran the car’s vehicle-identification number. It came back to a doctor in Yonkers, whom the NYPD was attempting to contact. In the meantime, Police Officer Dennis Ryan of the Evidence Collection Unit was trying to lift prints off the vehicle-unsuccessfully, as it turned out.

“All the prints are smudged,” he explained.

“These guys were desperate,” Officer Diz observed. “To drop a car in a high-visibility area-and not get caught. With three doorman buildings, too! We have no idea what time they dropped it, nothing.”

Book Country, Indeed

You know those folks you see haunting the aisles at Barnes & Noble? The leisurely ones sitting and reading as if they don’t have to be anywhere until 2011? The students of literature who fill the seats at the author lectures and aren’t friends of the writer, and whom you’re not entirely sure are book lovers or former prison inmates, or maybe both?

One of them visited the Barnes & Noble branch at 240 East 86th Street on Aug. 2. It seems his field of interest was biography, since he helped himself to $143 worth of books from the second-floor biography section, placed them in his duffel bag and prepared to leave the store.

As he did so, a security guard confronted him and asked where he thought he was going. The average, meek book thief normally gives up at that point, but this perp decided to mount a challenge, both physically and legalistically.

While tangling with the guard, he announced, “I’m outside the store. You have to let me go.”

His opponent disagreed, persuading the shoplifter to drop his duffel and flee in an unknown direction. Upon examining the contents of the bag, the police discovered photographs and an ID giving the 45-year-old suspect’s last known address as Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg, N.Y.