The Crime Blotter

He Had the Phone in Hand When Nature Called

If you’re going to rob someone, common sense suggests you don’t stop to take a leak just after doing so, as one bandit discovered on Dec. 19.

The crook walked up behind a young woman chatting on her cell phone on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street at 6:50 p.m. He probably should have known it was a bad omen when he wasn’t able to swipe the device away from her cleanly. He tried to grab the phone out of her right hand, but she managed to hold on, prompting a tug of war between the two.

The thief finally succeeded in loosening the woman’s grip and stealing the phone. But rather than flee into “the hole” (as the police affectionately refer to the subway) and onto the tracks or a waiting train, the perp headed for a bar on 67th Street between Third and Second avenues, directly across the street from the Fox 5 studios, where he availed himself of the comfort facilities.

When he returned to the street, the victim-a Santa Monica, Calif., resident-was waiting for him, accompanied by a male companion with whom she’d been walking when she was robbed. She confronted the suspect and demanded her cell phone back. The thief complied, handing her the phone-a silver Samsung-but with the battery missing.

By now the police, summoned to the scene by the victim while her assailant was answering nature’s call, had also arrived, and they arrested the crook, a 36-year-old Bronx man, for robbery.

Fast Cash

Holdups of people delivering store receipts to the bank are often associated with late night. But one robbery, of an employee of Shanghai Tang at 714 Madison Avenue, happened in broad daylight on Dec. 27.

The victim, a 61-year-old woman, was on her way to the bank with $5,415.09 in six bank-deposit envelopes at around 1 p.m. when she was accosted by a man wielding a black-handled hunting knife.

Actually, the thief didn’t produce the weapon until the woman declined his original request for the cash. Grabbing her shoulder and pushing her against a building at 61st Street and Madison Avenue, he first demanded, “Give me the money.” When she refused, he pulled out the knife and asked again.

This time she complied, producing the bank envelopes from her jacket pocket. The perp grabbed them and warned, “Be good or I’ll be back.” Then he fled westbound on 61st Street. However, his victim didn’t report the incident to the police or to her employer until Jan. 2 because, she told them, “she was afraid.”

Fa-La-La-La-La

There’s something to be said for doing the holidays right. But if it requires stealing to do so, perhaps the reveler-like the perp caught filching not one but two Christmas trees from a deli at 1616 Third Avenue on Dec. 19-ought to consider scaling back.

The store’s owner told the police that the thief tried to abscond with two small pine trees around 6 p.m. When he was confronted by management, his good cheer all but evaporated. He reached into his pants pocket while stating, “I’ll stab you and I’ll kill you.”

He then allegedly tried to make good on his threat, stabbing at the complainant and at least one witness with what they believed to be a knife. The police arrived on the scene and subdued the Grinch, who refused to divulge his real name and was listed as “John Doe.” He wasn’t wearing an ermine-fringed red suit, either, but a two-tone denim jacket and a white cap. The stabbing weapon turned out to be a pencil. The perp wasn’t unknown to his victims, who told the cops they’d had “numerous previous encounters” with him, apparently none of them cheery.

Ivy-League Description

A Harvard education, it seems, is good for more than getting your foot in the door at a white-shoe law firm or investment bank. One Harvard undergrad used his descriptive powers to help the cops catch a guy who mugged him on Dec. 21.

The 20-year-old East 88th Street resident was walking along 87th Street, between Fifth and Madison avenues, at around 3:30 a.m. when he was approached from behind and placed in a choke hold by a robber who stated, “Give me your wallet. I know you have it.”

The Ivy Leaguer astutely did as he was told, and the perp fled in an unknown direction. Despite the fact that his attacker had come up behind him, the victim was still able to offer the cops a rather vivid description (the result, no doubt, of all those good study habits one needs to ace the SAT’s and get into a selective college these days): The suspect was in his late 40’s, 5-foot-6, 110 pounds, with brown eyes, short black hair and wearing a beige jacket.

A couple of cops from the 23rd Precinct’s anti-crime unit promptly spotted the perp based on the description, apprehended him and transported him to 90th Street and Park Avenue, where a show-up was held and he was positively identified by the Ivy Leaguer. Lest there be any doubt they had the right man, the victim’s property-including HSBC and Citibank MasterCards and his Harvard University ID-were recovered from the perp’s left rear pants pocket.