There are certain times of the year-especially winter nights, when it’s well below zero-that the streets are deserted, even of crooks, and if you’re a cop on patrol, you wonder whether you could have a chosen a lonelier, less exciting profession. But there are other days that make up for it.
One such day occurred on Nov. 16, when Police Officer Paul Dondorfer and Lt. Stephen Barrett of the 19th Precinct spotted a gold Nissan Altima double-parked in front of the Greenpoint Savings Bank at 1010 Third Avenue around 11:30 a.m.
As the cops watched, a man got out of the front passenger seat of the car, went inside the bank and then came out almost at once. “He looked very nervous going into the bank,” Officer Dondorfer added. “He was looking around a lot.”
One develops a sixth sense in this line of work, being able to distinguish the law-abiding from the criminally inclined, and this guy had aroused their suspicions-especially when, some 30 seconds later, he crossed the street and entered the North Fork Bank, and then exited that bank as promptly as he had the first. His car, driven by a female companion, continued up Third Avenue. “We were getting a little excited,” Officer Dondorfer confessed. “He was definitely looking to rob a bank. He was looking for the right one without a line.”
The Chase Bank at 68th and Third was also too congested for the fellow’s liking, and the security guard standing in the lobby almost certainly didn’t make the place overly inviting. Ditto the Commerce Bank across the street.
Then the suspect emerged from the HSBC Bank at 68th Street and Third Avenue-the next stop on their tour-and laid down in the back seat of the car as if trying to hide. However, the cops doubted that he’d actually robbed the place. “He didn’t come running out of the bank; he walked out,” Officer Dondorfer noted.
But when the car stopped in front of the Fourth Federal Savings Bank at 1355 First Avenue, which is rarely crowded, the cops instinctively knew that their man had found what he was looking for. “Lieutenant Barrett and I had a feeling: ‘This is going to be the bank,'” Officer Dondorfer said.
They were right. “He was in the bank for a minute,” the officer continued. “We radioed for Officers Perry Kantor and Walter Lapinski to set up down the street a little bit in case they took off. We observed the defendant come running out of the bank with U.S. currency in his hands, and get in the car and take off.”
However, the getaway driver’s technique left something to be desired: She crashed into Officer Kantor and Lapinski’s vehicle. “The whole driver’s side door and front fender got ripped off,” Officer Dondorfer said. Officer Kantor, behind the wheel, got “a little bruised up-nothing major,” according to Officer Dondorfer, who tried to break the window of the perps’ Altima with his two-way radio when he couldn’t open the door. “The female driver backed up, almost hitting myself and Lt. Barrett,” Officer Dondorfer continued. “And she jumped up on the sidewalk to get around [Kantor and Lapinski's] car, and she proceeded northbound on First Avenue.”
Officers Daphne Ferguson and Annette Cirino joined the chase, following the suspects as they turned eastbound on 85th Street and First Avenue-a westbound street. Unfortunately, although oncoming traffic doesn’t pose an insurmountable obstacle in the movies (especially if you have no qualms about driving down the sidewalk), in real life the laws of physics tend to be less cooperative: The crooks promptly crashed into “a couple of parked cars and a couple of cars waiting for the light,” Officer Dondorfer said.
At that point, the female surrendered, followed shortly thereafter by the male-but only after what Officer Dondorfer described as “a brief struggle with myself, Lieutenant Barrett and numerous other officers.”
The stolen currency, all $795 of it (which doesn’t seem sufficient, no matter how pressing your needs, to jeopardize public safety, let alone your future, unpromising though that may be), was recovered.
Both perps were charged with robbery and reckless endangerment. The female, an upper Manhattan resident in her 30’s, was also charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, as the Altima turned out to be stolen. Her accomplice was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, the result of two crack pipes allegedly found on his person.
The couple was not new to crime. The man was on lifetime parole, and his partner was on parole until 2009 for drug-possession and drug-sale charges. The male, a 51-year-old Bronx resident, was subsequently picked out of a line-up for other bank robberies on the West Side.
We’ve all probably experienced the frustration of waiting on a glacially slow-moving line at a bagel shop. However, we rarely vent our frustration as effusively as the two men who visited the Bagel Shoppe at 1421 Second Avenue on Nov. 6.
A store employee informed the police that the suspects were visiting the store at 4:45 p.m. when one of them started to complain about the service. This rarely serves to endear you to the staff (and may even prolong your wait). The man missed another opportunity to charm his hosts when he tossed a cup of hot coffee at one of the workers, hitting him in the chest. Then he pulled over the cash register, breaking it.
By this point, the perps had overstayed their welcome-even ordering a pound of lox probably wouldn’t have redeemed them. So they decided to pour it on. The coffee-tossing, cash-register-breaking belligerent now picked up a chair and, when a worker came around from behind the counter to defend the establishment (or what was left of it), hit him over the head with it, causing bruises and a cut lip.
Then his partner, who may have thought he hadn’t been enough of a team player, threw a bottle at an overhead light, smashing it. Finally, both perps-deciding to forsake (at least at this location) the heavenly experience of a fresh, warm bagel, be it plain, poppy-seed, salt, garlic, pumpernickel or “everything”-fled in an unknown direction.