Sneaky Thief Seems to Be
She-Man About Town
It’s nice to be useful. After reading in a recent Crime Blotter that Tatiana, a designer-clothing resale store at 767 Lexington Avenue, was visited on May 27 by a queen-sized (or perhaps king-sized) perp of disputable gender who absconded with a couple thousand dollars’ worth of ladies’ clothing and accessories, Judy Olsen Dunne, the owner of Butter and Eggs, a shop at 83 West Broadway, contacted The Observer .
The suspect’s description-that of a shoplifting 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 transsexual with long, black tresses-sparked a recollection in Ms. Dunne’s mind from late March, when her Tribeca home-furnishings store first opened and she was paid a visit by a similar shopper.
“She came in and, right under our noses, stole a pair of very expensive paisley Etro slippers,” Ms. Dunne stated. “She was not a handsome woman. She was not one of those fabulous Lucky Chang transvestites.”
Ms. Dunne is certain that the suspect, who visited the boutique on at least two prior occasions, stole the slippers because when she viewed the security-camera tape later, she saw her in the act.
“The slippers were sitting on top of a bed as décor,” Ms. Dunne explained. “She scooped them up and put them right in her jacket. They were gone in two seconds. I watched the tape like 50 times. I was shocked.”
The store owner then reported the crime to the First Precinct-less, she said, because she hoped to catch the towering transgendered thief than for tips on how to better protect herself, her staff and (of course) her tasteful merchandise from future attack.
“They basically said, ‘Don’t confront this person-just call the police,'” Ms. Dunne reported. “As you can imagine, they were mildly amused, but clearly concerned.”
She was also considering calling Tatiana and comparing notes. “She stopped to talk to me,” Ms. Dunne said of the suspect, whom she described as “skittery,” dressed all in black (including black tennis shoes) and carrying an oversized black duffel. “She said, ‘Do you design the stuff for the store?’ She was clearly a pro. This is probably her livelihood.”
In another recent shoplifting caper-this one involving two individuals, one certifiably male, the other indisputably female-the perps visited H.L. Purdy, an eyeglasses store at 1195 Lexington Avenue, on April 16. Working together so seamlessly that they may as well have been one individual, the two pocketed enough merchandise to open their own upscale optician’s boutique.
Shortly after the sunglasses-sporting woman entered the store, her counterpart-described as very muscular, bald and also wearing sunglasses-arrived, pretended to browse for a while and then stated that he had to go out to put money in the meter.
Once he left, a store employee asked the lady whether she knew him. No, she replied, though he had been following her. This apparently sounded fishy to the employee, as well it might: It’s the rare stalker who announces that he’s going to put money in the meter and then be right back to further torment his victim.
Odder still, when the fellow returned, he held the door open for the lady (suggesting a degree of chivalry surprising in a creep), who was now departing, having purchased nothing. After the man also left, the worker took inventory and discovered that while she’d been keeping an eye on the man, the woman had apparently pocketed an impressive amount of merchandise.
The haul included three pairs of Silhouette sunglasses valued at $945, a pair of $350 Yamamoto frames, a pair of $255 Nike frames, $530 Armani frames (call me quaint, but why in hell would anybody spend so much money on eyeglass frames?), four Oliver Peoples frames worth a total of $1,140, and a pair of Calvin Klein frames valued at $270. The police canvassed the area, with negative results.
The motive of the recently captured “Spider-Man” burglar seems to be clear: He was after the loot, whatever that might have consisted of. But that’s not the explanation he offered the folks at the Ukrainian Institute of America, at 2 East 79th Street, when he was caught red-handed after breaking into the building during the wee hours, when he knew that people were virtually certain to be home. He needed company, the perp allegedly told the resident who accidentally made his acquaintance.
The crook allegedly broke a side window at 4:15 a.m. on June 3, entered the building and made his way to the second floor, where he forcibly broke the wooden doors to a storage room containing Ukrainian art. The perp apparently wasn’t a big fan of painting from the former Soviet republic, because he kept on going to the third floor, where he broke a second set of wooden doors, also without stealing anything.
Returning to the second floor, he did some damage to the kitchen pantry, where a witness confronted him and asked him what he was up to. “I’m sorry,” the thief allegedly replied. “I’m lonely.”
Though apparently not so lonely as to stick around until the cops arrived: The perp fled through the front door and eastbound on 79th Street, then southbound on Madison Avenue. A canvass was conducted at that time, with negative results.
Ralph Gardner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.