Better Than Cops :
NYPD Makes Blockbuster Bust
Life, not to mention police work, rarely lives up to its billing on TV and in the movies. So it’s a privilege to be able to report on a crime of cinematic proportions. The incident in question commenced around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 20, when a couple of New York–Presbyterian Hospital security guards on their way to make a bank drop encountered a stranger brandishing a .44-caliber magnum at 69th Street and First Avenue. Perhaps reflecting the soaring cost of medical care, the guards were carrying two bank-deposit bags containing approximately $8 million-about $50,000 in cash and the rest in checks.
“Give me the money,” the perp said, shoving his black revolver into the stomach of one of his victims for emphasis. The guards obliged by handing over the bags, and the thief briefly jogged northbound on First Avenue before jumping on the back of a waiting Kawasaki motorcycle driven by an accomplice.
When the crime first came over the police radio, it was mistakenly described as a bank robbery-which may have been a good thing, since the cops are well-prepared to respond, what with the popularity of these crimes over the last year. They immediately sprung into their bank-robbery apprehension plan, deploying officers to perps’ favorite escape routes out of the 19th Precinct.
Sure enough, several minutes later Sgt. Allan Eskenazi, an NYPD bicycle cop, spotted the motorcycle heading northbound on Third Avenue at 96th Street. Rather than trying to catch up to the chopper himself, he wisely transmitted the information, and patrol cars from the 23rd and 25th precincts took up the chase.
“Ultimately, [the motorcycle] gets onto the Harlem River Drive southbound,” said Deputy Inspector James Rogers, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer. “So we stop traffic on the southbound Harlem River Drive.
“This causes them to have no way of escaping,” the inspector continued. “So both of them try to pick up the bike [to boost it over the median] and go northbound.”
To add to the excitement, the perps tossed their gun into a nearby car stuck in the traffic jam caused by the police activity, undoubtedly surprising its occupant (though on second thought, perhaps not, this being the Big Apple).
And while hoisting a motorcycle over a concrete barrier would certainly be no impossible task for two young men in the prime of life (one was 27, the other 33, both from Brooklyn, according to police), they certainly weren’t able to accomplish the feat with the alacrity required with half the NYPD closing in.
So the perps shrewdly decided to abandon their wheels, which led, inevitably, to a foot pursuit by members of the 25th Precinct’s anti-crime unit. The suspects were apprehended at 128th Street and the Harlem River Drive, together with the two bank-deposit bags. They were soon after identified by their victims.
“It wasn’t like the guys were driving on the sidewalk and women and children were jumping out of the way,” Inspector Rogers explained, addressing the issue of whether the incident had box-office potential. “But these were dangerous guys, for sure.”
Even in the best of situations, subway travel is sufficiently fraught. So the last thing you should have to worry about if you’re a kid trying to get home from school is some pervert taking snapshots up your skirt. But that’s what one 15-year-old faced as she was leaving the I.R.T. subway at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 24.
The teenager spotted the suspect, a 28-year-old male, hanging out on the station stairs with a digital camera, “situated so he could photograph up the uniform skirt of the complainant,” according to the police.
The victim brought her admirer to the attention of some nearby cops, who arrested him and confiscated his camera. “I used to go to Catholic school in a skirt,” recalled a female police officer, to whom such activity came as little surprise. “That’s another thing that drives a lot of sick people: You throw on a uniform and forget it .”
Calling Mr. Cone
Though we condemn crime, credit must occasionally be given for ingenuity. Such was the case on Oct. 21, when a male visited a building at 85th Street and Second Avenue and told the doorman that he was there to pick up a package from “Mr. Cone.”
A Mr. Cone did, indeed, reside in the building. However, he’d left no package for the messenger. So the visitor asked if he could use the front-desk phone to call Mr. Cone, with whom he had a collegial conversation-though, in hindsight, the doorman realized, the suspect was having both sides of the conversation. At the end of it, he asked the doorman for the front-desk phone number and left to get a cup of coffee.
Five minutes later, the front-desk phone rang. It was supposedly Mr. Cone on the line. He asked the doorman to “please give $80″ to the messenger, according to the police, adding: “He will pick up a car at 49th Street and 11th Avenue. I will give you back the money later.”
Sure enough, the messenger returned; the doorman gave him four $20 bills and the messenger departed. It was only some time later-apparently when Mr. Cone informed the doorman that he had no idea what he was talking about when the doorman asked him for his 80 bucks back-that the employee realized that he’d been had.
While it’s admittedly not as satisfying as capturing the perp himself, a videotape of the incident is currently in the custody of the 19th Precinct detective squad, which is investigating the case.
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.