The Crime Blotter

Sassy Subway Punks Lift The Loot and Catch Action on Film

If you’ve committed a crime and nobody knows about it except your victim, did it actually occur? That’s the existential question that three female teenage thugs may have been attempting to address on Feb. 8 when they assaulted a couple of 14-year-olds on the northbound Lexington Avenue subway.

The victims had just boarded the train when they were approached by three slightly older, though perhaps not any larger, girls. In fact, the perps were described as downright diminutive; one of them was 5-foot-2 and weighed an estimated 100 pounds. The second was 5-foot-1 and tipped the scales at a mere 90 pounds. And the third member of the posse was described as weighing 95 pounds. All were approximately 16 years old.

In any case, size apparently doesn’t matter when you’re armed with attitude. Not only did the bandits steal jewelry from both adolescents, but they videotaped themselves doing so. As one of them filmed the action, a second bad girl punched one of the adolescents in the face when she refused to hand over a ring she was wearing.

In the end, the amateur documentarians got what they wanted-three rings, two necklaces, a pair of earrings and probably some exciting footage. The shoot wrapped up when the victims exited the train at the 68th Street station.

Politics of Confrontation

Given the risks, it’s a wonder that employees in Manhattan stores try to stop shoplifters rather than look the other way. A Jan. 29 incident at Lexington Market, at 859 Lexington Avenue, was just one more example of the can of worms that shopkeepers might open if they choose the path of confrontation.

At approximately 3 p.m., an employee noticed a customer enter the establishment and allegedly help himself to a bottle of water. He then placed the water into what was described as a “carry-on” bag.

The employee promptly confronted the thirsty perp, who responded by throwing the bottle at him. And that was just the beginning. Next, the shoplifter allegedly pulled out a black 9-mm. handgun, cocked it, pointed it in his victim’s face and stated, “You talk too much. I’m crazy. Do you want me to kill you?”

At that point, your average store clerk probably would have let the perp have his bottle of Pellegrino, or whatever it was. But the market’s heroic employee summoned the cops, who pursued the suspect, a 50-year-old East 12th Street resident, arrested him one block away and charged him with robbery.

Luxury Larcenies

If Bernard Arnault, the embattled French luxury-goods magnate who just sold most of his stake in the Phillips auction house, wants to boost his stock price, rather than quitting the pissing contest he’s been in with François Pinault (his nemesis and the owner of Christie’s), he may be best advised simply to hire a security guard. The fellow might have been able to prevent a couple of rather audacious recent shoplifting incidents at Sephora, the cosmetics supermarket chain that Mr. Arnault owns.

On Feb. 21, two thieves visited the company’s 1129 Third Avenue location at 10 a.m. and swept thousands of dollars’ worth of perfume off the store’s shelves and into a multicolored canvas bag they’d brought along for the occasion. Their score included 42 bottles of J’adore perfume valued at $2,388, 23 bottles of other Dior perfumes worth $1,920, a whopping 66 bottles of Cartier fragrance worth $2,880-and the list goes on. After the shoplifters had emptied the store’s very attractive shelves-say what you will of Mr. Arnault, but he does have an eye-they beat it, fleeing on foot northbound on Third Avenue toward 68th Street. The cops were called and canvassed the area, but with negative results.

This was the second incident at Sephora in two days, the word apparently having gotten out to crooks who like to smell good that the store is worth a visit. On Feb. 20 at 4:50 p.m., two perps checked out the emporium. While one of them attempted to distract a store worker by engaging her in conversation, the second took perfume off the shelf and put it into a bag.

However, the Sephora employee wasn’t fooled. The shoplifter pushed her out of the way when she spotted him, but she managed to grab his goody bag, and the thieves fled empty-handed eastbound on 67th Street.

Aromathievery

Apparently, there are all sorts of obstacles to turning a profit in the fragrance business these days, the recession being the least of it. Fresh, a lovely soap, perfume and bubble-bath outlet with a Zen-like atmosphere at 1061 Madison Avenue, reported to the cops that one of their employees-perhaps taking advantage of the store’s serenity and laid-back atmosphere-allegedly helped himself to $11,792.80 between December 2001 and Feb. 18 of this year.

The case was referred to the detective squad at the 19th Precinct, where the fragrance wafting through the air is more likely to be Old Spice or Aqua Velva than Dunhill or Dior.