Three Strikes and He’s In;
Persistent Perp’s Efforts Pay Off
A lot of crooks hit a store one time. Some even pay a second visit if they get lucky on their first trip. But burglarizing a store three times-within a period of one week, no less-probably constitutes something of a record. That’s what happened at Circuit City, the electronics outlet at 232 East 86th Street, on March 18, 21 and 25.
The location almost lends itself to such mischief. Rather than being at street level, the retailer occupies a sort of basement grotto that during the day is only partially visible from the sidewalk and, in the middle of the night, is practically invisible.
The March 18 incident occurred at 2:05 a.m. The time is significant because it happened shortly after hundreds of police officers who were patrolling the area in the aftermath of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and its booze-soaked festivities went off duty-suggesting a degree of intelligence, or at least a keen sense of timing, on the part of the perp.
At this time, the cops received a call from the store manager saying that the alarm was going off. When the police responded, they discovered that the front door had been forced open, but the intruder had been less successful in gaining access to a case containing digital cameras.
Perhaps it was because his first visit had proven unsuccessful-or maybe it was because the perp discovered that the store provided a fairly risk-free environment-that he decided to try his luck again and revisited the scene of the crime on March 21 at 5:19 a.m. On this trip, he broke the front-door glass-with a crowbar, the police suspect, because there were scratches on the door. But once again, he made off with little to nothing.
His third foray took place on March 25 at 3:20 a.m. This time he had slightly better luck. He smashed a glass case, removed an undetermined number of MP3 players, then fled in an unknown direction. Though a police canvass produced negative results, the cops were not discouraged.
“We’re going to get him,” vowed a police official. “Now it’s personal.”
We all know the feeling: You’re walking along the street in the rain, trying to stay dry by ducking under awnings. The strategy is working just fine until you find some schmuck standing in the way and are forced to step out onto the unprotected sidewalk, getting soaked in the process.
Most people-sociopaths excluded-take the annoyance in stride, chalking it up to the cost of urban living. But one citizen let his blues get the better of him on April 13 when he found another man occupying the dry spot under an awning at 64th Street and Third Avenue at 1:15 p.m.
“He tells the victim to get out of his way,” Police Officer Paul Dondorfer said of the perp, a 29-year-old Bronx resident. “The guy tries to take a step back. As he takes his step back, the defendant goes into his front-jacket pocket and pulls out a can of mace and sprays him straight in the face.”
Officer Dondorfer said the attack was unprovoked. “He just was upset. There was no rationale for it at all.”
The assault call went over the police radio, and Officer Dondorfer spotted the suspect about a block away at 65th Street and Second Avenue. It probably comes as no surprise that the perp’s rap sheet included numerous assault arrests. Officer Dondorfer answered in the affirmative when asked whether he thought the prisoner might have anger-management issues.
The victim was removed to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was treated for irritation to his eyes, ears and throat and was then released. “I asked the guy a lot of times, ‘Did you say anything to him?’” Officer Dondorfer recalled. “He said, ‘Nothing at all.’”
As this column reported last week, auto theft is on the rise on the Upper East Side. But that doesn’t mean civilians should try to stop the thieves themselves, particularly if the vehicle being hot-wired doesn’t belong to them, as appears to be the case with one Good Samaritan on April 4.
The victim told the police that he spotted two blond teenagers trying to flee with a 2000 green Dodge four-door in front of 401 East 65th Street around 4 a.m. Rather than call the cops (always the prudent thing to do), the bystander “jumped on top of the hood trying to scare the perps away,” according to the police.
He should’ve known better, if he’s been to the movies lately. In fact, perhaps paying homage to their Hollywood counterparts, the car thieves did exactly what they do in movies and put the car in reverse, hoping to shake the good guy off the car.
They succeeded. They also did the next thing they do in movies: They ran over the guy before fleeing in an unknown direction. The would-be do-gooder was taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries.
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.