Watchout Map-Reading Tourists Crooks See in You Easy Prey

Here’s a tip for summer travel: If you’re planning to visit one of the European capitals this summer, don’t consult a map in public unless your life depends on it. At least that’s the message several recent crimes involving tourists visiting New York seems to suggest. To do so tells opportunistic criminals, such as the unknown perpetrators who preyed on a Danish woman at the northeast corner of First Avenue and 60th Street on March 31, that you’re not only a tourist and disoriented, but a disoriented tourist-and therefore easier pickings than the average New Yorker, who has the mindset (and some of the moves) of a ninja warrior when it comes to negotiating the city’s streets and subways and fending off the crooks.

The victim, a 29-year-old resident of Roskilde, Denmark, was trying to make heads or tails of Manhattan’s chaotic streets and avenues and in all probability was trying to find her way to the Bridge Suite on East 60th Street, where she’d booked a room. That’s when two males, sensing she was lost, approached.

But rather than point her in the right direction, they offered her an even more authentic New York experience, plucking her duffel bag from her shoulder and fleeing in an unknown direction-unknown at least to their victim, who didn’t know Turtle Bay from Turtle Pond in Central Park.

What does the typical Dane (or rather Danish fashion model, judging by the contents of her bag) carry? A $300 Siemens cell phone, a $100 Furla make-up bag, a $110 pair of Kenneth Cole women’s sports shoes, a $50 “fashion book,” a Grundig Discman valued at $100, and three CD’s: the soundtrack to Ray, Outlandish and Jay-Z.

The Piano

There are certain warning signs that your eBay buyer may be fishy. And one of them has to be when you sell him something-say a used piano valued at $2,500, as one Upper East Sider did on March 28-and he sends you back a certified check for more than double the amount: $6,800. The buyer didn’t exactly tell the seller, an East 76th Street man, to keep the change, which would surely have aroused his suspicions.

But he did the next best thing: He told the piano man to send him the difference, evincing an exceptional faith in human nature. Unless, that is, the certified check was bogus, as it turned out to be, and he had nothing to lose by his largesse.

The victim deposited the check in his bank and, after it cleared, sent the piano’s buyer a check for the difference, in the form of a $4,300 MoneyGram. The only problem was that just because a check clears doesn’t mean it can’t bounce later, as this one did-in fact, to vertigo-inducing heights.

The victim only discovered the crime while at Tower Records, when his credit card was declined. Upon calling his bank to find out what the problem was, he was informed that the check was bad and that his account had been frozen.

The NYPD’s crime-analysis unit got in touch with MoneyGram, who traced the check and discovered that it wasn’t collected in Brooklyn, where the scoundrel told the piano’s seller he lived, but in Toronto, Canada. If there’s a silver lining to the story perhaps it’s that the victim apparently never relinquished possession of his piano. So he can use it to play the blues until he decides to put it up for sale on eBay again.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Nobody can resist a birthday, least of all the folks at the Pavillion Christofle, at 680 Madison Avenue. The store reported that on both March 29 and 30, they received a call from a gentleman who claimed to be from San Diego, and who wanted to make his New York City daughter’s birthday one to remember. So he ordered just about everything he could from the high-end crystal shop except for the cake.

His purchases, delivered to a Lenox Avenue address, included 12 place settings in the Marly pattern, valued at $4,620, as well as a $1,200 tray, a $290 Kawali water pitcher, a $400 Scottish whiskey decanter and a $400 Scottish ice bucket (in case she preferred her liquor chilled). Her haul also included a $210 pair of white satin cufflinks. Why white satin cufflinks? Why not?

The caller used two different credit cards to pay for his purchases. It was only later that Christofle discovered that both had been reported stolen.

Downward Dog

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe the theft of things like wallets and watches from the locker rooms of New York City health clubs as a pandemic. But at least the thieves try and blend in with the paying customers. A woman who visited New York Yoga at 1629 York Avenue on April 7 wasn’t even willing to put in that effort.

Arriving at the facility shortly after 7 p.m., she informed an employee that she was there to pick up her mother. But when the employee, a 40-year-old East 88th Street resident, next checked, the “daughter” had locked herself inside the ladies’ locker room. And after she’d asked the woman for her mother’s name-which didn’t match any of New York Yoga’s clients-she asked the woman to leave.

The suspect, however, refused-so the employee locked the front door and called 911. This is rarely a wise thing to do unless one desires a physical confrontation, which is what happened next. The perp punched the employee in the face and told her to open the door.

The yoga-center worker capitulated, and the perp fled northbound on York Avenue towards 86th Street. It was only after the woman had left that the worker checked her wallet and discovered why her adversary might have been hiding out in the ladies’ room in the first place: She’d stolen two of her credit cards.