Crime Blotter

NYPD Publicly Criticizes Banks

On Handling of Recent Hold-Ups

The bank robbery that occurred on May 3 at the Chase Manhattan Bank on 126 East 86th Street may have seemed much like the dozens of others that have plagued the city over the last few months. The incident featured an unknown perp who entered the bank at approximately 12:07 p.m. and handed the teller a cryptic note that stated: “50s and 100s now.”

The suspect added: “Give it to me now. Give me all of it now. Hurry up! Hurry up!”

The teller forked over a decoy pack containing approximately $479 in fake bills, and the crook fled westbound on 86th Street.

But what distinguished this hold-up from many of the previous ones is the NYPD’s response. Rather than keeping to themselves what they’ve been saying privately for months-that the banks are much to blame for this epidemic of robberies because of their lax security-New York’s Finest, following the example of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, criticized the bank publicly, and by name. (On a positive note, the police recently collared three other bank robbers who also had been preying on the Upper East Side.)

“This is their fourth or fifth bank robbery, and it took them 15 minutes to call 911,” fumed a police official, referring to the East 86th Street Chase branch. “[We’ve] spoken to them numerous times. They don’t get it. They have a security guard, and he said he didn’t see anything.” According to the police, the guard said that he was on the bank’s second floor when the robbery occurred.

Chase spokeswoman Kristen Batteria told the Crime Blotter: “We’re cooperating fully with the police. In the investigation of this specific incident, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details. New York City banks and law-enforcement agencies are all working very hard together to deter this type of crime. We all met a couple of weeks ago to discuss best practices from the NYPD. We’re already implementing many of the measures suggested by the Police Department, and we’re working together with them to do more.”

One of the police officers who responded to the scene and canvassed the area visited the Emigrant Savings Bank at Lexington Avenue and 89th Street, where he was told that a suspect fitting the same description-a black male, weighing approximately 175 pounds-had cased Emigrant just hours before.

“You’d think they’d be on board with us,” Deputy Inspector James Rogers, the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct, said of the Chase Manhattan Bank. “We’ve had several meetings with them.” He added that during those meetings, the bank did promise to beef up security, but he has yet to see any follow-through.

The police portrayed the situation as potentially dangerous, not just for the bank’s employees and customers, but also for cops-especially rookies who, hearing the report come over their police radio, and believing that the incident has just taken place, rush to the scene of the crime in their patrol cars, lights flashing and sirens blaring. It’s only when they arrive that they learn the bank took its time calling 911.

“These rookies are so anxious to make a bank-robbery collar,” said a veteran cop, “they’d kill themselves.”

It’s a Small World

There’s nothing wrong with being a whistle-blower. Indeed, it’s a noble calling. However, before you expose the corruption of others, it probably makes sense to calculate the chances of running into them again at some time in the future-and while you’re at it, you may want to consider the possible range of their reactions if you should happen to become re-acquainted.

One Second Avenue resident may have been having regrets about the decision he made a while back to expose a couple of crooked co-workers at an ambulette service. He had reported the individuals-a male and a female-to his employer for “forging signatures of patients to get paid for false services,” according to the police.

The whistle-blower subsequently left the company. However-perhaps evidence that this really is a small world, after all-he had the misfortune of encountering his former colleagues on April 30 in front of 51 East 90th Street. When he did, one of them, the male (described as a hefty 5-foot-9, 205-pounder who was sporting a “69” tattoo) struck him with a baseball bat, while the female (a not-inconsiderable 5-foot-8, 190-pounder), helpfully held him down.

The victim suffered bruises, welts and pain in both his lower-left-back and upper-left-chest areas. He subsequently filed assault charges against his attackers at the 19th Precinct.

When the Price Is Right

It takes a certain amount of shamelessness to shoplift in the first place. But it takes an astounding level of chutzpah to inquire about the price of the objects you’re considering stealing (to make sure the effort is really worth your while), as one thief did at Quinto Sol, a Mexican design shop at 973 Madison Avenue on April 16.

A white male, approximately 45 years old, entered the store at around 4:50 p.m., admired the merchandise and asked the shopkeeper about the prices of various items in the window. Then he departed.

But he wasn’t gone for long. He returned a few minutes later, no doubt after mulling over his options and coming to a considered decision about what he wanted to steal, based on the information provided by the helpful employee. Without a moment’s hesitation, he picked up a gold glass bowl, valued at $980, covered it in his raincoat and fled southbound on Madison Avenue. The police canvassed the area, with negative results.

Ralph Gardner can be contacted at rgard135@aol.com.