Crime Blotter

Uptown Doormen Suffer Wrath Of Animal Activists Gone Wild

The average resourceful Park or Fifth Avenue doorman is equipped to hail cabs, handle packages and perhaps chase away the occasional lowlife. But even the most intrepid of them might find themselves outmatched by a gaggle of animal-rights protesters, as the doormen of two fine Upper East Side addresses did on April 22.

In the first incident, which occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m., 10 members of a group identifying itself as “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” conducted what the police described as a “spontaneous demonstration” at 1120 Fifth Avenue. Huntingdon apparently refers to an animal-testing lab in Great Britain. “They broke the front glass, but were unable to get into the lobby,” explained Captain James Murtagh of the 19th Precinct. The protesters left behind a sign advocating their cause.

From Fifth Avenue they made their way over to 840 Park, where they had better luck breaching the building’s defenses. “They pushed the doorman around and broke two lamps and a glass table,” Captain Murtagh said. They also placed protest stickers on the site.

The police responded to the scene and arrested the demonstrators: five men and five women from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois, including one who was videotaping the festivities. The camera and tape were vouchered.

After the arrests had been made, the name of one of the perps rang a bell with the cops-as well it should. He was the same fellow who’d been arrested during the World Economic Forum in February, after breaking two glass windows at 188 East 76th Street with a hammer on behalf of an organization called the Coalition for Earth and Animal Liberation.

Readers may recall that the suspect was arrested after Deputy Inspector Howard Lawrence, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer-with the help of another inspector-made what might be described as a “spontaneous tackle” on the perp.

The police don’t know why the protesters picked the buildings they did on April 22. But in the February incident, they apparently believed that an individual who held stock in Huntingdon lived at the address they’d targeted.

Each of the suspects involved in the April 22 events was charged with criminal mischief, riot, reckless endangerment, incitement to riot and unlawful assembly. Special note was made of the individual who was arrested in February. “We said something to the D.A.’s office,” Captain Murtagh explained. “He’s going to get some specific attention, I believe.”

Save My Spot

There are many different methods of building a successful coffee-cart business. But the way one streetside entrepreneur went about it on April 2 isn’t one of them. The suspect was doing a thriving business from his cart at 87th Street and Lexington Avenue for probably a couple of reasons besides the courteousness of his service or the quality of his food.

One reason may have been that he’d set up shop within 20 feet of a crosswalk. Unfortunately, that’s illegal, as police officers Walter Lapinski and Perry Kantor-of the 19th Precinct Peddler Unit and Conditions Unit, respectively-informed him when they asked him to move at around 2:40 p.m.

According to the cops, the small businessman was in the process of complying when he said, “What do I have to do to stay here?”

To the officers, this sounded less like a legitimate question from a merchant pursuing the American dream and more like a bribe attempt, so they reported it to their superiors. But when they returned to where the vendor’s cart had been stationed, the suspect was no longer there.

On April 15, the officers spotted the same vendor at the same location-but this time without his cart. He informed them that he wasn’t making any money at his new spot-64th Street and Madison Avenue-and that he had a wife and kids to feed. Then he asked what he had to do to persuade the cops to let him return to his old location.

In the words of the police report, “Police Officer Lapinski became aware of the potential of a possible bribe being offered.” Officer Lapinski reportedly told the suspect he’d have to think the offer over, and that the suspect should meet him a few days later at 87th Street and Third Avenue.

The cop then informed the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which outfitted him with a wire in order to record his next conversation with the merchant. The two met again on the appointed day, and the fellow handed Officer Lapinski an envelope containing $1,000 on the understanding that he be allowed to sell his coffee and crullers at the corner of 87th Street and Lexington Avenue for a period of three months. The vendor added that he’d appreciate the option of renewing the arrangement every three months. He also said he’d be obliged if he would be allowed to bring additional carts into the area under the same deal.

Such may be the way that fortunes are made in other, distant lands, but not on the righteous and rigorous Upper East Side. The police officers took the money, left the scene and handed the evidence over to their superiors.

On April 17, they arrested the suspect at 2:40 p.m. at 41st Street and Northern Boulevard in Long Island City as he was returning his cart to the warehouse. He was brought back to the internal-affairs unit for debriefing and then moved to the 19th Precinct for arrest processing. He was charged, unsurprisingly, with bribery.

Free Tattoos

Some car dealers reportedly charge up to $800 to etch your V.I.N. (vehicle identification number) on the windows of your car. It’s supposed to dissuade car thieves from stealing your vehicle, and may even make you eligible for a discount on your auto-theft insurance.

But on May 4, you can receive the service for free, courtesy of the 19th Precinct and Assemblyman John Ravitz’s office. The etching-which takes about 15 minutes-will be done at 86th Street and East End Avenue from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., no appointment necessary.

Another freebie available are attractive and quasi-official-looking window stickers that identify you as a member of the NYPD’s C.A.T. (Combat Auto Theft) program. The stickers won’t stop you from getting a ticket if you run a red light or park in a no-standing zone, but they might prevent your car from being stolen. The sticker signifies that you’ve granted the police permission to pull your vehicle over if they see it being driven at odd hours-typically between 1 and 5 a.m.-to make sure the person behind the wheel isn’t a crook. It’s obviously not for you if you’re a night person. But if your biorhythms run towards the quotidian, you may want to consider it.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at Crime Blotter