The Crime Blotter

In Jumpy City, National Guard Springs Into Action

The National Guard apparently isn’t significantly less edgy than New York’s civilian population about the threat of terrorist attacks. On Oct. 3, the NYPD responded to a 911 call from the National Guard concerning a suspicious package on the east side of Lexington Avenue between 66th and 67th streets, directly across from the Seventh Regiment Armory.

The block-long building has returned to its roots, so to speak, as a military staging area, after serving as a venue for arts and antiques shows in that halcyon era that ended abruptly on Sept. 11.

A National Guard major posted at the rear of the armory spotted an abandoned suitcase across the street shortly after 9 p.m. and called the cops. Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic were diverted, and an Emergency Service truck responded to the scene and inspected the luggage. It was found to be empty, and the avenue and sidewalk were reopened after approximately 20 minutes.

A private school some 20 blocks away received a bomb threat the following day- its second in two weeks. The call was made to the school’s administrative office by a man described as having “no particular accent.” The police responded to the scene at 2:50 p.m. and, with the help of the school’s security officer, evacuated staff and students to a distance of 100 feet. The school was canvassed, but no bomb was found.

D.O.A. at Mission

An unusual accident at the Pakistani Mission to the U.N. on Oct. 2 claimed one victim. According to the police, three workers were installing blinds in the second-floor dining room of the mission at 8 East 65th Street when one of them stood on a chair that had been placed on top of a table. The chair leg punched a hole through the table, causing the victim to crash through the closed window and fall approximately 25 feet into the backyard.

An Emergency Medical Services team from Lenox Hill Hospital responded to the scene and pronounced the victim, a 45-year-old male Pakistani, dead on arrival at 2:38 p.m.

The Pakistani Mission’s first secretary called the victim’s family to inform them of the accident.

She Loves Shearling

Despite the calamitous state of world affairs, it’s comforting to know that the impulse to shop-or rather, to shoplift-remains as irresistible as ever.

On Oct. 3, a woman described as being approximately 35 years old visited Joseph, a boutique at 804 Madison Avenue. She removed a shearling sheepskin coat valued at $2,325 off the rack and walked with it to the front of the store. When an employee asked if she could help, the suspect asked for a different size, which required the saleswoman to get it from the storeroom.

When she turned to do so, the perp-apparently deciding she could live with the coat as it was-took the opportunity to bolt out the door and toward a waiting car with Florida license plates.

But the saleswoman, displaying impressive agility-not to mention acceleration-somehow managed to snatch the coat back from her before she could jump into the car. The perp wasn’t apprehended, but the coat was saved.

The Businessman

The events of the last few weeks also failed to quash the entrepreneurial zeal of another New Yorker. On Oct. 1, members of the 19th Precinct anti-crime unit reported that they had observed one such small businessman manipulating one of the MetroCard vending machines at the 68th Street and Lexington Avenue subway station with a toothpick.

Here’s how it worked: The man inserted the toothpick in the machine, preventing it from dispensing the cards. When a customer deposited his or her money and nothing happened, the perp courteously directed them to the token-booth clerk for a refund. Then he’d remove his trusty toothpick, the MetroCard would drop into his hand, and he’d sell it for half price to a bargain-hunting commuter.

SergeantDennis Rodriguez of the anti-crime unit said he observed the whole process, then moved in and arrested the thief, a 16-year-old Bronx teenager. The youth — his faith in the purchasing power of the American dollar undiminished — allegedly offered the sergeant a bribe in exchange for his freedom en route to the station house.

Sergeant Rodriguez reported the attempt to the Manhattan North Inspections Unit, prompting a couple of their officers to hurry down to the precinct and outfit him with a hidden microcassette recorder.

The cop then removed his prisoner from his holding cell and into an adjacent room where the perp allegedly repeated his offer, promising the sergeant $200 to make the charge — criminal tampering — go away. Instead, he was returned to the cell and informed that the charges against him had just been expanded to include bribery.

The Crime Blotter