Crime Blotter

Times Tough at Guggenheim,

But Sidewalk Isn’t for Sale

The Guggenheim Museum may be in the middle of some serious belt-tightening, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone so far as to rent out ad space on their landmark Frank Lloyd Wright façade or-more to the point-on the sidewalk in front of the building. At least they haven’t resorted to such measures yet, and certainly not pro bono, as a museum security officer explained to the cops around 4:15 a.m. on Dec. 31.

It was at that desolate hour of the morning that the police responded to the location, where they were informed that at approximately 3:40 a.m. the guard had discovered the words “KOPACH FILMS” painted in large white letters on the ground in front of the museum’s entrance.

Perhaps the graffiti referred-in some sort of ironic, existential way-to a guy by the name of Kopach and his celluloid obsession. Or perhaps the mystery filmmaker had been using the sidewalk as a backdrop on which to run the credits of an independent film. The answer may never be known, since the perp had left the scene by the time the guard spotted the vandalism.

However, the auteur did leave some rather solid evidence behind: On the ground beside the enigmatic words was a paint tray, a roller and a can containing a paint of the same hue as that used to deface the sidewalk.

An NYPD evidence collection team arrived and-for want of any suspect-took the paint, can, tray and roller into custody.

Heavy Reading

One of the problems confronted by book thieves-a problem that’s not faced by shoplifters of goods that can rather easily be concealed on one’s person, say jewelry or even clothing-is where to hide the merchandise while you make your escape.

Granted, it’s not especially hard to slip a book into a commodious pocket. Perhaps even two or three titles can be hidden without too much effort, assuming, of course, that they’re not coffee-table books. But once you start filching five, 10, 15 or-in the case of a perp who was apprehended at the Barnes & Noble at 240 East 86th Street on Dec. 11-17 books, you’re sort of asking for it.

Unsurprisingly, the suspect was observed by not one but three separate store detectives, all of whom apparently introduced themselves as he attempted to depart without paying. The literature, valued at $400, was confiscated and the thief, a 43-year-old male, was held until the police arrived and took over.

No Free Parking

It appears that the 31-year-old Brooklyn resident the cops arrested on Dec. 24 did several things wrong. The first was to allegedly forge a police parking permit (something he claims he didn’t do). The second was to place it on the dashboard of his silver 2002 Mercedes. And his third-and perhaps most grievous-miscalculation was to park his car in front of 260 East 66th Street, within spitting distance of the 19th Precinct.

While it’s often hard to decipher the criminal mind, perhaps he chose this particular spot for his car with the thinking that if he parked near the station house, his fake permit would pass for real among the authentic permits in the windows of vehicles belonging to legitimate police officers who report to the precinct on East 67th Street.

Alas, he didn’t fool a police officer who observed the suspicious placard and, after performing an investigation, located the car’s owner. Upon doing so, the cop asked the motorist his status within the NYPD. To his credit, the impostor didn’t pretend that he was a real cop. But that’s about as far as his common sense took him.

When the officer tried to place him under arrest, the suspect started fighting with him. The officer managed, finally, to subdue the man after other cops showed up and pitched in. The prisoner was then slapped (though only metaphorically) with resisting arrest, in addition to the original charge of forging a document.

Not that it makes a lot of difference, but after he was cuffed and informed of his Miranda rights, the prisoner allegedly admitted that he’d placed the placard on his dashboard. However, he said he wasn’t the forger. He claimed he’d found the document on East 65th Street between First and Second avenues and simply seized the opportunity to use it for free parking.

On a Bank Roll

There have been a robust number of bank robberies around the city in recent weeks. But in what may be a first, a bandit entered the North Fork Bank at 1258 Second Avenue on Dec. 31 and, borrowing Middle Eastern tactics, informed a teller that he was wired to explode.

The incident occurred around 3:15 p.m. on the final day of the year, when the suspect, wearing a dark-colored coat, visited the branch and handed the teller a note. Perhaps as an indication of how routine bank robbery has become, he penned the note on the back of a deposit slip that came not from the North Fork bank, but from an HSBC bank he’d apparently visited previously.

The note stated, “This is a robbery! I have a gun and a bomb. Give me the large bills Quicky! [sic] No alarms, or it will explode! No tricks or I shoot.”

As if the note wasn’t alarming enough, the perp stated, to underscore his seriousness: “It’s a robbery. Hurry up or I’ll pull this thing.”

And then he drew the bank employee’s attention to a wire dangling from the left sleeve of his jacket. The teller, prudently, handed over approximately $2,250, and the perp fled on foot southbound on Second Avenue.

The police responded to the scene and put what is known as a “Level 1 Mobilization” into effect. The plan calls for all available patrol cars to do a grid search of the area and cover escape routes such as the F.D.R. Drive. Unfortunately, the effort failed to turn up the suspect, described as a Caucasian male, 5-foot-8, 160 pounds and 36 years old.

The cops are also examining the possibility that this may be the same perp (featured in last week’s Crime Blotter) who visited the Chase Manhattan Bank at 770 Lexington Avenue on Dec. 20, placed a plastic bag on the counter and opened it to reveal several tubes wrapped in scary-looking red and beige wires. In that case he did even better, making off with approximately $15,000.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at rgard135@aol.com.