The Writing’s on the Wall-High-School Punks Did It

Handwriting analysis has often been used to link criminals to major crimes. Less common is employing the peculiarities of an individual’s penmanship to link them to graffiti vandalism, as was the case on April 13. The offending scrawl was spotted by a 14-year-old student on a wall of his school, Life Sciences Secondary at 320 East 96th Street. Its authorship was traced back to a fellow 14-year-old by matching the graffiti on the wall to the graffiti in the suspect’s locker, his textbooks and on other pieces of paper, his penchant for creative expression apparently running out of control. He was charged with graffiti vandalism.

In a separate incident at the school two days later, a 16-year-old was observed by a witness festooning a bathroom wall with graffiti of a decidedly unacademic nature. Indeed, the scrawled message charged that a female student had allowed a male student to take anatomical liberties with her of the sort punishable by arrest in the Deep South until rather recently (and perhaps still, come to think of it).

The suspect was arrested by two police officers assigned to the school and charged with graffiti vandalism. In both cases, the offending black markers used in the crimes were recovered and taken as evidence.

While the results may not yet be evident, the NYPD is getting serious about graffiti vandalism. “There’s zero tolerance,” explained Police Officer Maria Ayala, the 19th Precinct’s crime-prevention officer. “We’re telling everyone to call 911 immediately if they see anyone with a spray can do graffiti.”

However, if you don’t see the crime in progress but only the results, 311 is the number to call. And in case civic duty isn’t motivation enough, the city is offering a reward of up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone committing “graffiti and vandalism.”

The Dirty-Jacket Trick

You’d think that a trip to New York would afford the Taiwanese some much-needed rest and relaxation, what with the mainland Chinese breathing down their necks these days. Not so for the 54-year-old Taipei resident who was standing on the northeast corner of 65th Street and Third Avenue at 9:50 a.m. on April 15.

Another man bumped into him and stated, “Sir, you have a dirty jacket.” Rather than tell his assailant to get lost, as a seasoned New Yorker might have done, the polite Asian gentleman allowed the other fellow-described as 5-foot-4 and 35 years old, with straight, long brown hair-to help him off with his jacket in order to clean it.

Unfortunately, this maneuver required him to put down his attaché case, which was the whole point of the dirty jackets in the first place. By the time the victim had put his jacket back on, the Good Samaritan had vanished. A passer-by informed the unfortunate tourist that an accomplice of the perp had absconded with his briefcase while he was distracted. The Samsonite case contained a $2,000 I.B.M. laptop computer, a $600 New York–to–Taipei Cathay Pacific Airline ticket and a wallet containing $200.

Karaoke Crime Scene

If there’s one situation more compromising than being accosted on the street of a foreign city by ill-intentioned strangers, it’s got to be standing up in front of a crowd and belting out a song at a karaoke bar.

It’s extremely hard to keep track of your stuff when you’re making a fool of yourself and are probably plastered to boot. Those were the approximate circumstances in which a 32-year-old Brampton, Canada, resident found himself in the wee hours of April 17 when he prepared to serenade the patrons of Iggy’s, a bar at 1452 Second Avenue.

During his absence, an unknown perpetrator took advantage of his efforts to acquit himself with style (would you expect Sinatra to keep track of his wallet while he’s belting out “My Way” at the Hollywood Bowl?) and departed with his Canon Powershot camera, which he’d left behind on the bar.

The victim asked the bartender whether he’d seen the crime, but the bartender (predictably enough) hadn’t. The camera was valued at $400.

Pieces of Eight

Not that it’s to be encouraged, but shoplifting is something of an adolescent rite of passage. Who is so pure that, as a teenager, they didn’t filch a pack of after-school gum or an issue of Mad magazine? Nonetheless, the juvenile who visited the Petco store at 147 East 86th Street on April 21 raised the shoplifting bar significantly when he absconded with a parrot from the pet store’s exotic-bird department.

The suspect, described as approximately 15 years old and 130 pounds, visited the pet-themed department store at 12:48 p.m., turned a birdcage around and helped himself to a Red-Lord Amazon parrot. Placing a towel around his prisoner (parrots can get pretty ornery if you’re not sufficiently respectful of their personal space, even leading to the loss of one’s smaller appendages), he unceremoniously plucked the surprised Polly from its domicile and stuffed it into his book bag before fleeing the scene.

Area residents are advised to be on the lookout for the purloined parrot, who was described as green with a red forehead, and who was sporting a bracelet with the ID number HJV16278 at the time of his disappearance.