It’s Trouble When “Al” Shows Up; Woozy Crook Loves Magazines

In the same way that the New York City Department of Health produces an annual list of the most popular baby names, Crime Blotter, after arduous number-crunching and statistical analysis, has come up with the most popular name for crooks: It’s Al. Not Al as in Allan or Alvin or Alfred, but Al as in alcohol.

Find a dumb-ass crime where the thief is virtually guaranteed of getting caught, such as the one that occurred at a newsstand at 1391 Second Avenue at 5:20 a.m. on July 18, and chances are that liquor’s involved—liquor and often a taxicab to spirit the woozy perp around in style, whether he plans to pay for it or not.

The suspect in this case hailed one of these sparkling yellow vehicles at 80th Street and York Avenue and stated, “Take me to 42nd and Eighth.” A more sober passenger would have sat back and enjoyed the ride, perhaps making a little small talk with his driver. But for some reason, the inebriated often have stops they need to make and impulse items they must buy.

In this case, the perp told the cabby to pull over at a newsstand at 1391 Second Avenue for cigarettes. The driver obliged, and his passenger entered the store. But once he was inside, the magazine rack proved too hard to resist—so what if the meter was running outside? The drunk became absorbed in the periodicals—so much so that the newsstand employee suggested he might prefer paying for one of them and reading it in the comfort of his own bed.

“What are you looking for?” the merchant snapped.

There are, as we all know, two kinds of drunks: the lovable kind and the mean variety. This guy fell firmly into the latter category, as those who eventually find themselves in the slammer typically do.

“Fuck you,” he answered and grabbed four magazines.

Instead of hopping back into the cab, however—which he may well have forgotten was waiting for him—the drunk fled on foot down Second Avenue, with the newsstand worker in pursuit.

At some point during the chase, the merchant encountered a cop who arrested the thief, 19 years old, for petty larceny. The charges included not only the theft of the magazines, but the perp’s failure to settle his cab fare.

“When Al shows up, it’s bad,” said a police official. He added that bartenders frequently ought to share some of the blame for the crooks’ bad behavior: “People get over-served.”

No Dye or Die!

One of the key weapons in the NYPD’s ongoing war against bank robbery (which may be why they’re losing it) is something that seems more like an item in a child’s magic kit than a tool in the arsenal of a modern police force—the dye pack.

For those who are unfamiliar with the device, it’s a bag (or rather a mini-bomb) filled with dye and secreted in a stack of cash. And it’s supposed to explode, making it simple for law enforcement to identify the fleeing crook, who is now covered in silly-looking orange dust.

But bank robbery has recently become so popular in the Big Apple that thieves—such as the one who visited the Chase Bank at 201 East 79th Street on July 14—aren’t falling for the ploy anymore.

The villain entered the bank at 10:25 a.m., approached a 19-year-old teller and passed her an envelope (itself unusual, and suggesting a level of etiquette as well as advance planning on the part of the thief) containing a note. The note was hardly something Miss Manners would have crafted: “I have a gun,” it read. “Give me the money, I’m going to kill somebody!”

While the epistle was undoubtedly troubling, the teller managed to maintain her composure, reaching for a wad of cash containing one of those aforementioned dye packs. But the crook was having none of it. He requested that she count the money—meaning if it were going to explode, it would do so in her face rather than his.

The teller returned the note and forked over $4,520 in cash that contained no surprises. The bank robber, described as 5-foot-5 and carrying a black duffel bag, fled in an unknown direction.