The Crime Blotter

Cat Got Her Clothes? Jocelyne Wildenstein Burgled

Some of us lead lives without great peaks and valleys, while for others, fate has picked out more dramatic terrain to navigate. Jocelyne Wildenstein would seem to fall firmly into the latter category. As if her life didn’t already include more rugged turf than the landscape of Afghanistan, on Nov. 18 the police responded to a grand larceny in progress at her East 82nd Street townhouse.

Upon their arrival, the officers were met by the complainant herself, who informed them that unknown perpetrators had entered her fourth-floor walk-in closet and absconded with $40,000 worth of her clothing. The items included a $15,000 Hervé Leger dress, a $15,000 Valentino dress, a pair of black leather pants (and what a pair they must have been) valued at between $8,000 and $10,000, and a passel of Alaïa and Roberto Cavalli pants, tops and jackets.

What made the situation especially unpleasant-perhaps even a little creepy-is that Ms. Wildenstein’s walk-in closet is guarded by a push-button lock system, which makes sense considering the net worth of her wardrobe. However, there were no signs of forced entry, suggesting that the perps had known the combination.

At least it appears Ms. Wildenstein suspects as much, because she apparently suggested helpfully to the police that they might save time by interrogating her own employees first. Indeed, one of them was debriefed by the 19th Precinct detective squad, though with “negative results.”

Unfortunately, though the NYPD will undoubtedly devote formidable resources to solving the crime, the units thrown into battle will most likely not include the latent-prints unit. The areas from which the clothing was removed, alas, aren’t conducive to retrieving prints.

Unusual Candor

The average shoplifter uses subterfuge-booster bags, coveted items stuffed into underpants, etc.-to realize his or her mission. So it’s somewhat refreshing (if still to be roundly condemned) when one of them clearly announces his intentions to the staff at the store he’s stealing from, as a fellow did when he visited the Banana Republic shop at 1136 Madison Avenue on Nov. 23.

The perp, along with three others, entered the store at 5:05 p.m. and helped himself to 20 cowl-neck sweaters priced at $88 each, for a grand total of $1,760. When an employee apparently tried to thwart the heist, the perp didn’t insist it was all a big mistake, as some do, or simply try to muscle his way out of the store without even offering his victims an explanation. Rather, he forthrightly stated, “We are gonna do what we gotta do, even if we gotta knock somebody out.”

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. The perps fled with the stolen items in an unknown direction.

Return to Sender

Try to imagine the return address on the letter you would least like to receive at this moment in human history. Might it read “Department of Biology, Iraq”? And if so, wouldn’t you want to call the police pronto? Or better yet, walk the epistle over to the nearest station house yourself?

That’s what one doctor, an East 82nd Street resident, did on Nov. 24 after receiving just such a letter through the U.S. mail. The physician stated that he became suspicious-and who wouldn’t?-when he spotted that return address.

An officer isolated the evidence, a Hammer Team responded, and the letter was spirited off to the Department of Health by the 19th Precinct “Omega Auto.”

The Omega Auto is a post–Sept. 11 phenomenon, and refers to a car dedicated to patrolling what a police official described only as “high-profile sensitive locations,” declining to go into further detail. “Omega” refers to the NYPD’s highest state of alert, on which it still remains.

In any case, the letter turned out to be not a weapon of mass destruction, but rather a request for an appointment. “He’s an eye doctor,” explained a police officer who was on the scene, of the missive’s recipient. Of the sender, he added, “He’s really writing about getting eye surgery.”

In fact, a second ophthalmologist received a similar letter with the same return address. Coincidentally (or maybe not), he called at about the same time the cops were trying to figure out what to do with the first letter. “It turned out to be the exact same thing at a 64th Street address,” the officer said.

No word on whether the Iraqi with the eye problems was able to get an appointment.