Demolition Halted For
One-Man Wrecking CrewThe police believe they’ve put a stop to a one-man crime wave that threw the 19th Precinct’s positive crime statistics into the negative column after he burglarized as many as 11 stores on the Upper East Side over the past couple of weeks.
The reason they’re not 100 percent certain they’ve got their man is that the crook they apprehended-shortly after he burglarized a Benetton store on Third Avenue, between East 77th and 78th streets, around midnight on Sept. 26-didn’t commit the crime with his usual tool of choice.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t use a brick,” explained the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector James Rogers, referring to the perp’s preferred projectile. “He got in with a hammer.”
However, the C.O. added, “it was the same M.O.” The crook, it seems, had brought new meaning to the term “window-shopping”: He would smash a high-end store’s plate-glass window and, instead of cleaning the place out, would take a few select items and flee on the subway.
It was the perp’s predictability that proved to be his Achilles’ heel and resulted in his eventual capture. “We had a whole plan in effect,” Inspector Rogers explained. The cops suspected the perp of using the subway as his getaway vehicle, “so we put some additional resources on the midnight tour and, when a call of a burglary in progress [came over the police radio], these guys went straight to the subway. Other personnel responded to the scene of the crime.”
Sure enough, on the night of Sept. 26, the cops spotted their suspect as he awaited a train at the 77th Street and Lexington Avenue subway station. “We got him on the platform going through a bag of his Benetton property,” the inspector said.
The suspect, described as a 32-year-old black male, didn’t resist arrest. But that’s not to suggest he was cooperative. The 117th Street resident declined to be either photographed or fingerprinted, and perhaps with good reason. “He’s not a stranger to the system,” Inspector Rogers noted, adding that the thief had 63 prior arrests listed on his rap sheet.
Among his alleged targets during his latest crime spree was the Nine West boutique at 184 East 86th Street, where, on Sept. 23, he threw a paving stone through a window and made off with 10 pairs of pumps; the Pottery Barn at 117 East 59th Street, where, on Sept. 21, another well-aimed paving stone helped in the acquisition of a number of butter dishes, a bar case and 14 sets of candlesticks; and the Luxury Brand Outlet at 1222 Second Avenue, where, on Sept. 14, he made off with four gray jackets valued at $169 each. In that case, the store’s front glass window was smashed using two bricks concealed in a white paper bag.
Since the suspect’s arrest, there have been no additional burglaries reported in the area involving bricks or paving stones. However, because his final crime was committed with a hammer, the cops are waiting a bit longer before declaring victory.
“I’ll be more comfortable in a week,” Inspector Rogers said. “We had a terrible burglary week because of him; we were having one a day. He was a one-man wrecking crew.”
Continental Con Men
Another couple of crooks proved that you may be able to get further with kindness than with missiles. A 79-year-old woman told the police that on Sept. 22 she was visited by two exceedingly polite-one might go so far as to call them continental-thieves masquerading as construction workers.
They visited her East 88th Street apartment at 4:30 p.m. and entered her home, announcing that renovations were in store. “We’re going to be doing some work in the building,” explained perp No. 1-an approximately 33-year-old, 6-foot-2, 190-pound white male-as he led the victim toward the front of the apartment.
“We’re making repairs in the building,” echoed his partner, described as a six-foot, 190-pound white male, as he headed into the bedroom. “A pole needs to be placed in the front room in the corner,” the first suspect continued.
The victim stated that she never felt threatened-charmed, perhaps, but not threatened.
As abruptly as they had arrived, the men were gone, with a “Thank you very much” and a kiss to the elderly woman’s hand.
It was only after they’d departed that the lady noticed that $20 and a diamond ring of unstated value were missing. The police canvassed the area, with negative results.
Scheduled demonstrations are one of the most common ways to express your dissatisfaction with a country’s politics-especially on the Upper East Side, where there seems to be a U.N. mission conveniently located on just about every block. But there are other, more cost-effective ways, as the nation of Myanmar learned on Sept. 17.
At approximately 6 a.m. that morning, the mission’s second secretary, Tim Maung Aye, discovered that unknown perpetrators had thrown several paint-filled balloons at the 10 East 77th Street mission. The perps made a real mess of the place, damaging the façade, windows and front patio with paint bombs filled with a substance that resembled fresh blood.
Maybe that was the point. Myanmar’s military junta has an unimpressive human-rights record, and the leader of its pro-democracy opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been under house arrest on and off since the late 80’s.
There were no reported witnesses to or videos of the incident, and no group or individual claimed responsibility. The case remains under investigation by the 19th Precinct and the NYPD Intelligence Division.
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.