The Crime Blotter

Some People Can Take No for an Answer

While the city and the nation remain on high alert for the next terrorist attack, some common criminals apparently don’t consider themselves in any peril of falling prey to the heightened security. On Oct. 14, a 29-year-old man was walking home along the Upper East Side shortly after midnight when a robber simulating a weapon (reminiscent of the good old days, when that was about the worst one had to fear from city living), approached him and demanded cash.

“I need some money,” the perp stated.

When his intended victim inquired, “How much?”-perhaps assuming his assailant would show some self-restraint-the perp replied, “Everything.” No surprise there.

At that point, the robber also simulated the aforementioned weapon and added, “Or I’ll kill you. I swear on my mother’s grave, and I’m not joking.”

This encounter occurred on Fifth Avenue between 65th and 66th streets-one the city’s better neighborhoods, though not the busiest location at that time of night, and certainly not a place where one would normally try to bargain down a guy with a gun.

However, this victim, an East 85th Street resident, did. He flatly refused to turn over his wallet, prompting his would-be robber to backtrack. He was only joking, the perp explained convivially: “I only need a buck or two.”

The complainant still declined to make a contribution. So the perp, who was 5-foot-11, 200 pounds and approximately 30 years old, simply gave up and fled down Fifth Avenue, then eastbound on 62nd Street. The police canvassed the area for the suspect, but with negative results.

Security Blanket

Another sign, though not necessarily an encouraging one, that normalcy may be returning to the Upper East Side are the shoplifters dropping by some of Madison Avenue’s finer shops. One such perp visited Frette Home Couture, at 799 Madison Avenue, on Oct. 27.

Rather than simply contenting himself by absconding with, say, one of the boutique’s superior-quality flat and one-fitted sheets-which, by the way, can set you back a week’s pay at Frette-he made off with a mink blanket worth $8,500.

For those who aren’t yet paralyzed by recession fears and might be in the market for such a throw (or who weren’t but are now that they’ve heard that something so wonderfully decadent exists), the item measures approximately 53 inches by 71 inches. If you would like it in different dimensions-and frankly, if you can afford a mink blanket in the first place, why stop at a measly four by six feet?-it can be specially ordered for you from the store’s factory in Italy.

A Frette salesperson attested that not only the front but also the back of the blanket, made of pure silk, is lovely (so that, come the revolution, one could always flip it over and sport the cloth side).

As for the aforementioned perp, he apparently visited the store around 9:30 a.m., before it was officially open for business, and was let in by the morning cleaning woman. He fled with his prize in an unknown direction.

Priority Mail

A high-ranking Israeli politician was staying at the Regency Hotel on Oct. 17 when a member of the Shin Bet, the Israeli secret service, assigned to his detail became suspicious of a FedEx envelope delivered to his room. The envelope, the agent noticed, included no tracking slip.

After a brief investigation, it was learned that the envelope had been delivered at around 1 a.m. (an odd hour for mail delivery under any circumstances) to the hotel’s front desk by an unknown male who wasn’t wearing a FedEx uniform. It was then placed in the hotel guest’s mail slot.A member of his staff retrieved it around 8 a.m. and brought it upstairs to his room.

After Israeli security examined it, they turned it over to a State Department special agent, who summoned the NYPD. A Hammer (Hazardous Materials Emergency Response) team arrived and decided to evacuate the surrounding rooms pending the arrival of the bomb squad. The bomb squad X-rayed the package, which was deemed to be nonexplosive, and the Hammer team sealed it for its trip to the lab under the auspices of detectives from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Designer Anthrax

There have been nearly 100 radio runs generated by citizens concerned about anthrax, according to Captain Howard Lawrence, the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct. Not one proved positive. One complaint on Oct. 23 involved a suspicious package discovered by employees of the U.S. post office at 217 East 70th Street.

Police officers who responded to the scene at around 6 a.m. were informed by a postal employee that he’d placed the package, sent from Iran to an East 64th Street address, on a table when a small amount of red powder emerged from a hole in the bottom of the package.

Post-office workers further stated that this was the second such package they’d received in recent days. On Oct. 19, a similar package arrived bound for an address on First Avenue in the 60’s. The area of the post office where the boxes were located was evacuated and secured by a Hammer team, which removed the packages-the earlier one had apparently remained undelivered-and placed them in bags. Further investigation by the Department of Health determined no danger was posed by the red powder.