Crime Blotter

Bridges and Tunnels Do Not Deter Triborough Crook

While New York is among the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, its dirty little secret (well, at least one of them) is that many of its residents tend to be rather provincial. Many Manhattanites rarely, if ever, set foot in Queens or Brooklyn, let alone Staten Island. And more than a few inhabitants of those scenic boroughs avoid midtown at all costs.

Not so the perp the police apprehended on Aug. 27. While it’s unlikely the city’s tourism bureau will be honoring him anytime soon, he did feel utterly at home in at least three of the city’s four constituent land masses. “He’d steal cars [in Manhattan],” Howard Lawrence, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer, said, “he’d stick up bodegas in Queens and dump the cars in the Bronx.”

The crook became of interest to the police on the Upper East Side on Aug. 9, when he visited a garage at 1317 Second Avenue, held up the place at gunpoint-ordering the attendants to get on the ground-and helped himself to $165 in cash and a white Ford before departing in an unknown direction.

Car thieves typically don’t hold up the same garage twice-at least not on successive weeks. But this suspect, a bearded male in his 40’s, apparently felt that he was on a roll and returned to the scene of his crime on Aug. 16.

The garage staff recognized him as he came down the ramp while removing a black gun from his waistband and, apparently deciding departure the better part of valor, fled the office and hid in the back of the garage. From there, they watched as the suspect tried to gain access to several vehicles before finally succeeding with a blue Ford Taurus. He was last seen on that day fleeing southbound on Second Avenue at 69th Street. The cops canvassed the area, with negative results.

In this case, however, persistence paid off. Deputy Inspector Lawrence said the perp was caught by the Queens Robbery Squad (with the able assistance of their brethren in Manhattan and the Bronx) after the police acquired a surveillance photo of him sticking up a store in Queens. “Somebody [recognized the photo] and called the TIPS hot line,” Deputy Inspector Lawrence reported. “They went to the Bronx and waited for him up there.”

Supermarket Bag Boy

The cops have not yet enjoyed the same success with another cocky serial bandit. This one, who seems to specialize in robbing supermarkets, held up the same Gristede’s twice in 11 days. On his most recent visit, on Aug. 24, the crook-wanted for at least nine supermarket holdups in the 13th, 17th and 19th precincts-visited the 1180 Second Avenue store at 6:10 a.m. He displayed a handgun and, showing scant remorse, stated, “You remember me from the last time. Hit the safe.”

The previous visit to which the crook was referring occurred on Aug. 13 when, apparently in a more talkative mood, he made conversation about products and inquired about job opportunities before announcing that he was self-employed, as it were, by lifting his shirt to reveal a black handgun in his waist band.

He had come equipped on his first visit with a handy plastic bag, which he suggested the manager fill with the contents of the safe. The manager complied, forking over $1,000 in singles and $500 in quarters. On his latest expedition to Gristede’s, the suspect, described as in his early 20’s, absconded with $2,100 after removing a green laundry bag from his rear pants pocket and reminding the manager of the drill. He and an accomplice were last seen fleeing in a green minivan toward the northbound entrance of the F.D.R. Drive.

Other stores the perp has made appearances at include the Food Emporium at 1450 Third Avenue, where he helped himself to the contents of a cash register on Aug. 2 after a cashier opened it to give change to a customer. And on Aug. 7, he dropped by the D’Agostino at 1507 York Avenue, engaged an employee in conversation (again about employment), and then displayed a black semi-automatic in his waist band and demanded money. However, in this case, the manager opened the safe to prove it was empty, and the perp fled-though only across the street, to the

Duane Reade at 1498 York Avenue. The police responded to the scene, but not, unfortunately, before the suspect departed in an unknown direction. A canvass of the area had negative results.

Neither Safe Nor Sound

Tuesdays is cash-pickup day at one East 59th Street restaurant. So when a man arrived at the establishment at 10:20 a.m. on July 30, dressed in the uniform of the Safe & Sound security company, and gave a 19-year-old restaurant employee the correct code word, she led him into the office and handed him approximately $80,000.

At that point, the perp disgraced his uniform by producing a silver automatic handgun and proceeded to apply duct tape to his victim’s eyes, hands and mouth before fleeing the scene. Once freed, the young woman helped the police canvass the area by patrol car for her assailant. The cops also deployed other patrol cars to cover possible escape routes. Unfortunately, they failed to find the robber.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at rgard135@aol.com.

Crime Blotter