The Crime Blotter

Ever So Lightly, Thief Lifts Rare Tiffany’s

Jay Pearsall, the owner of Ivy’s Books at 2488 Broadway, wanted someone to take home the first edition of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s that he had featured in his store’s front window on Nov. 30. He just wishes that the guy who did had paid for it first.

Mr. Pearsall returned to his store from running an errand at around 5:45 p.m. and saw the book, which was valued at $750, missing from the front window. “I asked if it had been sold, and everyone at the store said no,” he recalled. “And I went and checked the videotape.”

Sure enough, the tape revealed a well-dressed man in his late 40’s to early 50’s who reached into the window and took the book. “He actually set it down somewhere else,” said the book dealer, who received a tutorial on the modus operandi of accomplished, upscale shoplifters as he watched the video. “He sort of looked around, came back, picked up the book, put it in his newspaper, walked around the store, and was about to leave when he saw somebody near the front door.

“I can only assume he thought it might have been an employee,” Mr. Pearsall continued. “So he took another turn around the store, and when the door was clear he went to leave-and then even made the pretense of looking at a few prints right by the door, in case anybody was going to stop him-and then walked out the door.”

The merchant said it’s hard to identify the perp, “even though we have had a building manager in the neighborhood who wants to see [the store security tape]. He thinks the person may live in his building.”

Mr. Pearsall said he filed a crime report at the 24th Precinct, yet believes that those most likely to catch the thief are his fellow book sellers. He’s having stills made from the videotape and plans to disseminate them.

“We called the rare-book room at the Strand,” he reported, “and Skyline and the Griffin and a few others around town.”

He’s also planning to make it harder for other shoppers-or rather, shoplifters-to reach into the front window and rip off his treasures. However, perhaps more depressing than the monetary loss he suffered was the loss of confidence in the honesty of his customers.

When he searched the tape for the culprit, Mr. Pearsall said, he found that “everyone looks suspicious-and that’s the worst thing about it. It just makes us look at everyone differently, and we really are a small store that basically supports two small families and several part-timers, so it hurts.”

Those who want to help hasten the store’s recovery and make everybody’s Christmas a little brighter might consider purchasing its first edition of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye , with dust jacket, for $7,500. However, don’t go looking for it in the front window.

“We’ve got it under armed guard,” Mr. Pearsall said, exaggerating only slightly.

Tanned and Taken

There are certain locations where crime seems especially reprehensible-in churches and hospital emergency rooms, for example-because the victims are particularly vulnerable and unsuspecting. Add to that a tanning salon at 1276 Lexington Avenue, which was visited by robbers on Nov. 27.

Two males entered the emporium at approximately 6:25 p.m. While one of them, a teenager, attempted to distract the manager, his somewhat older accomplice entered a booth where a 36-year-old female 84th Street resident was working on her tan and absconded with the contents of her pocketbook.

This included $250 and several pieces of 14-karat gold jewelry, including a tennis bracelet and a pendant with chain, her Chase Manhattan credit card and her bank A.T.M. card.

The second perp then fled the premises with the property. But as the first bandit attempted to depart, the manager grabbed him and a struggle ensued. During the altercation the thief flailed his arms, and the tanning-salon employee sustained injuries to his left elbow and his right knee. However, he managed to detain the crook, a 17-year-old Bronx resident, until the police arrived and arrested him for robbery.