Likeable Homeless Perps Get Expensive Sympathy Uptown

You know those pain-in-the-ass (literally) counter stools they have at places like Starbucks and your corner pizzeria? Their lack of comfort is the least of their liabilities, as a man discovered on Jan. 10 when he visited the Bagel Shoppe at 1421 Second Avenue.

The victim, a 43-year-old East 69th Street resident, was minding his own business, perched on his high chair and enjoying his bagel at 6:30 p.m., when another man approached him from behind and asked him for $2. When the victim explained that he had no money, the panhandler took the news poorly, striking him with a closed fist behind his left ear.

The homeless perpetrator wasn’t unknown to the police, who say they’ve been trying to get him off the street for a long time. “He has a violent edge and stands there ranting and raving,” explained one police officer. “But as soon as you talk to him, he’s very calm and collected. He’s incredibly well-spoken.”

Handling such individuals can pose a problem for the police, especially when they have people skills, because the cops have to be able to prove that they’re a threat to themselves or others before they can take them off the street.

One police officer recalls a homeless gentleman, known as Moses, who begged for money using signs not meant for polite company. “Do you have spare change?” one of his prospectuses read. “My girlfriend has an overbite and my cock is sore.”

The police eventually managed to arrest him for aggressive panhandling, less because of his risqué signage than because of his other M.O.: Unasked, he’d sweep up in front of a chicken store at 62nd Street and First Avenue. When the employees refused to pay him for the effort, he’d dump the garbage in front of the store.

Another problem that the police often confront is public sympathy for the perps, some of whom become neighborhood fixtures. One police officer remembered the case of the panhandler known as “Wild Man,” who frequented 70th Street and Third Avenue. While filthy and known to defecate in public, he apparently fancied himself something of a ladies’ man and once broke into the apartment of a Norwegian blonde he’d befriended on the street, stealing her underwear.

He was eventually arrested for resisting arrest. “Even when he’s pepper-sprayed, on the ground, under arrest,” complained the cop who apprehended him, “someone comes over with a $20 plate of food from Yura.”

The victim in the Bagel Shoppe incident told the police that he’d never been hit so hard in his life—which is understandable, since his assailant once told the cops that he’d been a star college-football player. The victim received medical attention at the scene. Meanwhile, the police were optimistic that the suspect—who is known to hang out in the vicinity of Second Avenue between 72nd and 73rd streets—would be spotted and arrested shortly.

“Tomorrow, we’re going to do a show-up,” explained the cop.

All for Love

Valentine’s Day isn’t only emotionally wrought—for those whose partners measure the depth of their attachment by the time and effort they put into buying a gift—but also expensive. Especially if you’re playing the field.

That may be what motivated one thief to get a jump on the holiday on Jan. 15, when he visited the Gristede’s at 1356 Lexington Avenue and helped himself to several boxes of chocolate. He took the candy off a display shelf and put them into his shopping cart. But they didn’t stay there for long: He soon hid the chocolates inside his orange knapsack and then, to mask his thievery, purchased a roll of paper towels and toilet paper.

Unfortunately, his paramours should plan to be disappointed, perhaps even to celebrate Valentine’s Day without him—his sleight of hand didn’t fool the Gristede’s manager, who apprehended the 30-year-old suspect outside the store, recovered the six boxes of chocolates (valued at $57) from his backpack, and held him until the police arrived.

Children = Future

It’s not good enough to know your teenage son’s or daughter’s friends; the problem usually starts with the friends of their friends—especially when your offspring decide to entertain company while you’re away for the weekend, as a Jan. 14 incident rather vividly illustrated.

A 17-year-old East 87th Street resident told the police that three adolescent males visited her apartment around 1 a.m., accompanied by one of her girlfriends, who apparently—if only by inference—vouched for their rectitude. The hostess wasn’t that familiar with them, since she was able to identify one of them only as “Joey,” age 16, a second as “Dan,” age 18, and the third male not at all.

Their identities only became important once they’d departed and the teenage hostess started to notice some of her favorite things (and, one suspects, some of her parents’ favorite things) missing. They included $50 in cash, not one but two iPod Nanos valued at $500, a couple of Sony PSP’s worth $600, a $500 Nikon camera, a $500 Sony camera, an American Express credit card and—perhaps most precious of all to a teenager—her New York State driver’s learning permit.

Fearing the worst, she called Amex and had her suspicions confirmed: Her guests had charged $5,600 to her account. Their spending spree had also taken them to the P.C. Richard & Son store on East 86th Street. But the card, later returned to her by the NYPD grand-larceny unit, was denied there. The grand-larceny team continues to investigate the crime; the evidence at their disposal includes security-video footage of the three males leaving their adolescent victim’s home.