While we’re not in the business of coaching crooks on how to become smarter criminals, it would seem obvious that if you offered a cop a bribe—as a shoplifter who got arrested at Barneys, 660 Madison Avenue, did on Nov. 13—and he doesn’t go for it immediately, you’d best withdraw the offer.
The reason why eventually became apparent to the perp after he was arrested by the midtown north grand-larceny unit at 2:45 p.m. The team was visiting the upscale department store hoping to spot pickpockets when they observed the defendant stealing merchandise. And when they asked to see some ID, the identification he produced was fake.
So the police gave him a complimentary ride to the 19th Precinct for arrest processing and then tossed him into a holding cell. It was at that point that the suspect, a 32-year-old male who spoke mostly Spanish, offered the police officer $700 in exchange for his freedom.
The policeman removed the prisoner from the cell and took him to the bathroom, where the suspect repeated the offer. It was probably at that moment that the crook should have withdrawn the bribe, or perhaps should have suggested that the NYPD put it toward upgrading the stationhouse’s comfort facilities, which frankly leave something to be desired.
Instead, the policeman returned the suspect to the holding cell and contacted the midtown north investigations unit. At 7:15 p.m., more than four hours after the initial arrest—and enough time for even the most naïve thief to surmise that something fishy might be brewing—officers from the investigations unit arrived at the 19th Precinct, educated the police officer on the finer points of “bribery and entrapment,” and equipped him with a mini-cassette recorder.
Then they dispatched him to engage the prisoner in conversation yet again and get the bribe offer on tape. The crook was once again removed from the holding cell and taken to a secure location within the stationhouse, where he courteously repeated his $700 offer.
Once the cops checked the tape and made sure the bribe offer was crisp and clear, they informed the perp that he was no longer charged with shoplifting alone, but with the more serious charge of bribery.
Rich people are usually pretty cagey about hiding the family jewels when the help is around; after all, why unnecessarily tempt them with a diamond-studded Rolex or a tennis bracelet that exceeds their annual salary?
But masseuses seem to fall into a special category. Perhaps it’s because it takes a certain amount of trust to let them see you without your clothes on. Once that barrier has been broken, maybe it leads you to let your guard down in other ways.
At least it apparently did with an 880 Fifth Avenue resident on Nov. 19. The victim, a 74-year-old woman, told the police that she’d placed her ring in her personal bathroom “that only she uses.” Well, actually only her and her masseuse, who decided to visit her private bathroom at around 9 a.m.
After the masseuse left, the lady decided to take a shower, and it was at this point that she realized her ring was missing. She said she’s been trying to contact the masseuse, who isn’t answering her phone. And probably for good reason: It would take a lot of massages—deep, therapeutic, herbal, erotic or otherwise—to accrue the capital to purchase such a bauble herself, described only as “white stone.” The victim placed its value at $260,000.
Crooks in Candyland
One of the warning signs that you’ve been pickpocketed is when a perfect stranger bangs into you when contact could easily have been avoided. The problem is that there are some stores that are so popular—especially during the holidays—that it’s impossible to distinguish the crooks from the merely clumsy or aggressive shoppers who invade your personal space.
One of those locations would have to be the perennially popular Dylan’s Candy Bar, at the southeast corner of Third Avenue and 60th Street. The jostling at Dylan’s isn’t normally a criminal enterprise, but rather a shopping strategy as customers virtually trample each other for penny candy that costs as much as controlled substances, $29 T-shirts and humble milk-chocolate Hanukkah dreidels that sell for $12.
A 45-year-old Newtown, Mass., woman informed the police that she visited Dylan’s on the day after Thanksgiving, removing her wallet from her purse at 4:20 p.m. to make a purchase. Following her purchase, she put the wallet back in the purse and closed it.
But while having a conversation with fellow family members (which may have been her first mistake, the chaos of Dylan’s hardly making polite conversation possible), she felt herself jostled by strangers in a manner that suggested they were after something more valuable than Wonka Bars.
And then, as she moved toward the exit, she noticed that her purse was open and her wallet missing. The $150 wallet contained $30 in cash, a car-park card, a Massachusetts driver’s license, her Social Security card and her medical license.