Crime Blotter

10-13: Cop Calls for Backup

In Gift-Card Scam on Third Ave.

Relations between some Upper East Side merchants and the 19th Precinct’s anti-crime unit are so chummy that when a suspect visited the Gap at 66th Street and Third Avenue on July 12 and used a phony credit card to buy a gift card, the store’s manager didn’t bother calling 911. Instead, he dialed the personal cell phone of Paul Dondorfer, one of the cops in the anti-crime unit, who just happened to be patrolling the area in his unmarked police car.

When the suspect “went to sign the receipt, the receipt signature did not match the signature on the back of the credit card,” Officer Dondorfer explained. “When the complainant asked for ID, he made an obscene comment, snatched the credit card and left the store. That’s when they called us on the cell phone.”

Officer Dondorfer and his partner, Sgt. Benny Carbone, spotted the getaway vehicle, a Chevy Trailblazer, and followed it as the suspect visited several other stores on Third Avenue, including a Banana Republic, a Starbucks and an Eddie Bauer, buying gift cards in each of those shops.

As the perp was leaving Eddie Bauer, Officer Dondorfer decided to introduce himself. “As I attempted to stop him, a fight ensued where he attempted to knock my radio out of my hand as I was attempting to call for help,” the cop said.

“I identified myself [to the suspect] and put my shield up, but he refused to comply. He started walking towards me. I pushed him backwards, at which time I get on my portable radio. He continued to walk towards me until backup arrived,” Officer Dondorfer continued.

And arrive it did! The code the officer blurted into his radio was a “10-13,” meaning a cop in need of assistance-in other words, a call for help-which seems to have a sort of primal-scream effect on fellow officers. “A ton of uniformed guys showed up,” Officer Dondorfer said. “Cars, people …. ” In the meantime, Sergeant Carbone had blocked in the Trailblazer, preventing the driver of the car, who was accompanying the perp, from escaping.

The sergeant said that the driver claimed just to be chauffeuring his buddy around while he did a little shopping. “He said, ‘He’s going to the store-I’m driving him around.’ You can’t lock them up for nothing.”

The same can’t be said of the perp, who was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and forgery. “They pick your pocket on the bus,” Officer Dondorfer explained. “They already hit four stores. He’d be on a shopping spree down Third Avenue until his card was denied-if not for the Gap employee.”

Holiday Hangover

It’s one thing for someone to swipe your purse at a bar. It’s another to also spill your drink. The same person did both at the Carino Ristorante Italiano and Bar, at 1710 Second Avenue, on July 4, in what seems like a supremely unpatriotic act.

The incident occurred a few minutes after midnight. The victim, a 32-year-old East 89th Street resident, was sitting at the bar when the woman standing next to her knocked her drink over. As the victim cleaned up the mess, she noticed that her clumsy fellow patron had already departed. A few minutes later, she discovered why: Her purse was missing from her chair.

While she never ran into the woman again, she has a pretty good idea where she went immediately upon leaving the bar-to the subway. The perp charged $700 worth of MetroCards on her victim’s American Express card. Other items in the purse included a Connecticut driver’s license, a real-estate license, a cell phone and $20 in cash.

Pet-Store Perp

The obsessive devotion that Manhattanites have for their cats and dogs sometimes makes one think it’s the owners rather than the pets who need to be treated for distemper. Nonetheless, they’re generally not violence-prone-which may explain the absence of security cameras at the Petland Discounts on East 86th Street on July 3, when the store received an unwanted visitor.

At 12:40 p.m. a male, approximately 30 years old, visited the pet shop and asked for help with the purchase of a fish tank. Nothing unusual there-Petland has a truly impressive selection of tropical fish, as well as one of the most knowledgeable sales staffs in town.

However, as it turned out, the perp wasn’t interested in purchasing a fish tank, fish food, a goldfish or even a decorative aquatic plastic plant. Instead, he intended to rob the joint. After walking back and forth from the front to the rear of the store for a while, he leapt over the checkout counter and removed an unknown amount of currency from the register.

When a female employee protested, the perp produced a knife and fled in an unknown direction, leaving the fish tank behind. A canvass of the area by the police proved unproductive.