Everybody’s Cruising On
The Information Superhighway
It’s surprising that more people haven’t thought of this scheme for making some fast cash: A 40-year-old gentleman told the police that he was hunting for a summer rental on Craigslist.com (although in the police report, it got translated as “Craiglist.com”-a platform that features such attractions as 4asses.com, 4housewives.com and 4hairy.com, rather than real-estate transactions, as does the site with the “s” added on). However, in the end, the victim may have wished that he’d made contact with a horny housewife rather than the woman he ended up with-a young lady who told him that she had something even better than sex for sale: an affordable summer rental on East 73rd Street.
So the two met at the address-the victim described the perp as 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds-and she gave him the keys to the apartment in exchange for a $5,750 check. She promptly cashed the check and then vanished-apparently for good reason. Further investigation revealed that she didn’t own the apartment, she only leased it. Moreover, the real owner stated that she had no authority to sublet the space.
Crime may be down-with the exception of bank robbery, of course-but that doesn’t mean you can now leave your doors and windows unlocked as if you were living in North Dakota.
A female East 95th Street resident (steps off Fifth Avenue) was awakened at 4:30 a.m. on June 6 by the sound of footsteps emanating from her living room. A moment later, she heard her daughter scream as the intruder-described as a slim male, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9-entered her bedroom.
Though they didn’t know it at the time, they were in the presence of the infamous “Spider-Man” burglar, who was arrested on June 12.
The girl’s mother grabbed the suspect and shoved him into the living room as he kept repeating, “Don’t scream, don’t scream.”
Some of his past victims have described the burglar as polite and well-spoken, according to the police. “Some of the people carry on conversations with the guy,” said a police official.
Not this family. The girl’s father, awakened by the commotion, also came into the living room, prompting the assailant to run to the window and, living up to his moniker, scale down the front of the building from the second floor apartment to the street.
The father threw a large glass vase filled with rocks and flowers at the fleeing suspect from the window, striking him on the left shoulder. The blow wasn’t enough to stop him, though, and the perp fled northbound toward 96th Street.
The police responded approximately one minute after the family called 911 and commenced a search that included officers from both the 19th and 23rd precincts, subway stations in the area and the north end of Central Park.
The NYPD’s Aviation Unit was also called in and canvassed the roofs of surrounding buildings as well as Central Park. Three people were stopped and questioned, though none were detained.
The suspect, Rufus Graham, 40, was arrested on West 45th Street a week later when his Spidey sense apparently deserted him-or his webbing gave out-as he tried to jump from a commercial building that he was attempting to burglarize. This time, the cops managed to apprehend him. He later confessed to the East 95th Street break-in and 11 other similar crimes.
Bad Day for Bank Robbery
It’s probably premature to say that the cops have finally got a handle on bank robberies. Nonetheless, June 3 was a pretty good day if you happen to be in the crime-fighting business.
The cops in the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side arrested a suspect shortly after he robbed a bank on the Upper East Side, having penned his hold-up note on Mickey Mouse stationery. And a few hours later, cops on the Upper East Side apprehended another suspect believed to be behind 11 bank robberies around the city.
The festivities commenced at around 9 a.m., when a 34-year-old male visited the Bank of New York at 1100 Third Avenue, proceeded to a teller’s window, and handed over a note on a piece of paper that featured the aforementioned beloved cartoon character-though the contents of the note were hardly humorous.
The note said: “Carefully put a $100 bill thru the window now. Hurry up.” To underline his desire for speedy service, the perp began to pound on the window. Was it in Bananas or Take the Money and Run that the Woody Allen character has such poor penmanship that he’s forced to translate his note for his victims, costing him precious time?
Something like that apparently happened in this case. Rather than forking over the money, the teller shared the note with his supervisor, encouraging the nervous bank robber to flee empty-handed.
“They put the description over the other divisions,” explained James Murtagh, the commanding officer of the 20th Precinct, “and two of my community-policing officers, Detective Jonathan Cobin and Police Officer Joseph Reale, see an individual fitting the guy’s description on 62nd Street and Columbus.” Sgt. James Crescitelli of the 20th Precinct was also involved in the arrest. He spotted the suspect walking southbound on the east side of Columbus Avenue.
“In the past,” Captain Murtagh continued, “someone will rob a bank and go rob a second bank, especially if they didn’t get money. They have, in the past, crossed town.” Indeed, this guy managed to cross the park with impressive alacrity.
“He ran,” explained Deputy Inspector James Rodgers, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer. And even though he wasn’t preparing to rob another bank when the police spotted him, he apparently was in the vicinity of one.
“This guy was wearing a burgundy sweatshirt and a green shirt,” matching the description of the perp who’d just left the Bank of New York, Captain Murtagh went on. “They stop him. They bring the teller over from the bank. The teller positively identifies him. In his pocket is another note on Mickey Mouse stationery.”
The suspect confessed to attempted bank robbery, according to the police, and is suspected in one other bank robbery earlier this year.
Later, at 1:45 p.m., in another attempted bank robbery, a rookie cop assigned to Operation Impact-the police initiative that floods high-crime areas with cops-visited the Emigrant Savings Bank, at 1270 Lexington Avenue, on routine anti-bank-robber patrol just as another bank robbery was going down. The perp had passed a note demanding money and stating that he had a gun. He also gestured towards his waistband.
As the police officer, Jorge Duran, entered the bank, a couple of tellers pointed at the male, who was departing briskly after having failed to get any money. The cop gave chase, and the perp, an East 97th Street resident, was apprehended at the corner of 84th Street and Third Avenue. “He shit his pants,” revealed a police official, dispensing with euphemism. And for good reason: The perp is suspected in four bank robberies in the 19th Precinct and 11 across the city.
“He’s never going to see the light of day,” the official noted. “I would hope.”
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.