Bomb Squad Investigates Rockets Found In Tony U.E.S. Buildings

Admittedly, we live in dangerous times. Nonetheless, what are the

odds of discovering not one but two mortars

in two different Upper East Side apartment buildings within 24 hours of each

other? That’s what happened on Sept. 16 and 17, when the World War II–era

weapons were discovered in a part of town better known for its upscale

boutiques and tony apartment houses than for its Sadr City–type munitions

stockpiles.

In the first incident, which occurred at 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 16,

a porter at 205 East 69th Street found what appeared to be a miniature missile

in the garbage on the third floor. Perhaps imprudently, he removed his

discovery from the trash and carried it down to the lobby three flights below

to get the super’s advice.

Upon reflection, the super locked the projectile in his basement

office and hurried over to the 19th Precinct—the station house conveniently

located a couple of blocks away—where he informed the desk sergeant of his

predicament.

Police Officer Gregory Sayers was dispatched to the location,

where he observed what indeed appeared to be a missile (or what the NYPD

described as a “rocket-shaped device”). Officer Sayers alerted the Emergency Service

Unit, which shut down traffic on 69th Street and called in the bomb squad.

When the bomb squad responded, they quickly deemed the device to

be a mortar—luckily, an inert one—and removed it without further difficulty.

The building’s tenants, who had been evacuated in the meantime, were allowed to

return to their residences.

In a potentially more precarious incident the following day,

three small children were playing in the basement at 208 East 85th Street when

one of them noticed what appeared to be a mortar shell in a pile of old stuff.

It’s unknown how long the items had been sitting there or who they belonged to.

But the building’s owner called 911, who dispatched an Emergency Service Unit

truck to the scene.

The E.S.U. examined the mortar shell and didn’t like what they

saw, suspecting it to be a live round. The bomb squad was brought in again, and

they confirmed the E.S.U.’s suspicions. All surrounding businesses and

residences were evacuated, and all pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the

vicinity was frozen.

The live shell was removed from the basement and placed in what

was described as a “containment vessel.” From there, it was transported to an

NYPD firing range to be detonated. The case remains under investigation by the

NYPD Detective Bureau’s arson-and-explosion squad.

The cops also searched the basement for more explosive devices,

but none were found.

Buckle Up!

There are many sound reasons to wear seat belts, not least of

which is that it gives the cops one less excuse to pull you over, as one

motorist discovered to his regret on Sept. 8. The driver was proceeding along

63rd Street between First and Second avenues at 1:18 a.m. when he encountered a

D.W.I. checkpoint.

He apparently gave no indication of being intoxicated. However,

because his seat belt was unfastened, the police asked to see his driver’s

license. When he was unable to produce it, the cops undertook an on-the-spot

Department of Motor Vehicles check and determined that the individual’s license

had been suspended.

That wasn’t the end of his difficulties. When the cops put the

suspect, a 53-year-old Reading, Penn., resident, under arrest for the

violation, he told them that he happened to be carrying a large quantity of

cash—a truly large quantity of cash ($218,000, to be exact)—concealed in a

briefcase on the car’s passenger seat.

The man and his money were

removed to the 19th Precinct for processing by both the NYPD’s nightwatch unit

and the aptly named asset-forfeiture unit; when the suspect failed to come up

with a convincing explanation for why he was carrying so much spending money,

the asset-forfeiture unit counted it and took into safekeeping.

“He had some weird story,” explained a police officer. “He said

something like he had a partnership that was breaking up; he was

depositing $9,990 here and there” (so as not to reach the $10,000 threshold at

which banks are required to report deposits to the government). The officer

added that the car the suspect was driving, an ’88 Oldsmobile, also didn’t seem

to reflect his net worth: “It wasn’t a Lamborghini.”

According to the police officer, the suspect may well get his

money back if he’s able to prove that he acquired it legitimately. “It’s not

like we’re stealing it,” the policeman said. “We’ll give him a receipt for it.”

Tourist Trap

Crime may be down, but that doesn’t mean that anybody would

mistake Manhattan for Copenhagen, where you can leave your bike on the street

unlocked and return the next day to discover it still there—as a Danish visitor

to the Big Apple learned, much to his chagrin, on Sept. 17.

The victim was just inside Central Park, at 73rd Street and Fifth

Avenue, when an unknown suspect ran up behind him, swiped his knapsack (or

“rucksack,” as they say in Scandinavia) and took off at an impressive velocity.

Not only did the tourist fail to catch him, but he also couldn’t provide much

of a description of his assailant, except that he was about 5-foot-11 and 160

pounds.

The already remote chances that justice would be served, the perp

caught and the property returned to its owner were made less likely when the

33-year-old Copenhagen resident, sadder but wiser, departed for his homeland at

5 p.m. the following day.

The $100 black Nike rucksack contained a $700 Sony Cybershot 3.2

camera, a $150 French Connection sweater, a $25 tourist guide and a $150 pair

of what were described as “police” sunglasses.

A homegrown cop had no idea what “police” sunglasses were.

“Unless he’s a big CHiPS fan,” the

officer observed. “Maybe they were the kind Eric Estrada used to wear.”

Using the opportunity to lobby for a pay raise, the cop added, “I

can assure you there aren’t too many police officers wearing $150 ‘police’

sunglasses. We get the knockoffs.”