Crime Blotter

Senior Moment: Old Man Robs Bank, Then Goes Back For More

It makes sense that, as the population keeps aging (and especially if Social Security does indeed go the way of the buffalo), we’ll start seeing older crooks, just like you sometimes see seniors manning the fry machine at places like McDonald’s. In fact, there are already signs of this phenomenon, as a couple of recent incidents demonstrate.

On Oct. 7, a bank robber, who was described as approximately 60 years old, visited the Apple Bank at 1555 First Avenue and presented a teller with a stick-up note. The note, relinquishing little to younger bandits when it comes to bluster, stated ominously, “I have a gun.”

The teller, who recognized the suspect as the same man who had held up the bank on Oct. 2 (could it have been senility that sent him back, or did he consider this his lucky branch?), pulled the alarm and called the police. At that point, the perp retrieved his note and fled the scene.

The same individual had been

more successful on his first visit, at 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 2, when he passed the teller a note demanding money. On that occasion, an employee handed him $3,053, which he accepted and then promptly fled the scene. Perhaps realizing he shouldn’t push his luck, the senior departed not on foot, but in a yellow cab. The cops responded to the scene on both occasions, but with negative results.

Geriatric Attack

Another recent incident-this one a multi-car accident that turned violent-also starred a senior citizen. The accident occurred on Oct. 3 at York Avenue between 63rd and 64th streets. Upon the arrival of the cops, the driver of one of the three vehicles-a diplomat assigned to the Russian Mission at 136 East 67th Street-informed the officers that another motorist, later identified as a 74-year-old Upper East Side resident, had attempted to leave the scene.

Hoping to prevent the escape, the diplomat tried to stop the vehicle by reaching into the old man’s car. Perhaps he was assuming that old people feel obligated to exercise greater dignity and self-restraint than the young. If this was the case, the Russian was sorely and rather painfully mistaken. Instead of civilly pulling over to the curb, the septuagenarian bit the diplomat on his upper right arm, causing injury.

The Russian gentleman was treated by the police at the scene, and all parties involved adjourned to the 19th Precinct, where the investigation continued. It culminated with the cops’ decision that the old guy was, indeed, a predator. He was arrested and charged with assault.


Performance Art

We’ve all heard the reports of possible terrorists casing airports, military installations, etc., and videotaping the facilities as they plan their lethal attacks. For a few moments on Oct. 3, the folks at the Guggenheim Museum, at 1071 Fifth Avenue, apparently suspected they might be in Al Qaeda’s crosshairs.

Shortly before 11 p.m., museum security officers reported to the police that a group of suspicious people were videotaping in front of the landmark Frank Lloyd Wright building. By the time the cops arrived, the suspects had departed, but one of the officers spotted something that seemed to confirm the museum personnel’s suspicions-a piece of electronic equipment that had been left behind on the sidewalk.

The cops prudently summoned the bomb squad and also requested an Emergency Service Unit truck. They then diverted traffic, vehicular and pedestrian, for approximately 30 minutes on both Fifth and Madison avenues in the vicinity of the museum.

Before the bomb squad arrived, however, the able members of the E.S.U. truck had identified the suspicious object not as a piece of video equipment-or worse-but as a guitar amplifier. At 11:56 the amplifier’s owner, an Oregon resident, returned to the scene and explained that the equipment had been used as part of a performance-art project that he and his friends had been filming at the museum.

It was accidentally left behind, he continued, when the Guggenheim staff requested that his team stop filming. The explanation apparently satisfied the cops, especially after its owner offered a detailed description of his property and showed some ID. Fifth and Madison avenues were reopened to traffic a few minutes later.

Magic Fingers

Car-rental companies will tell you-as Hertz once did this reporter-that if you leave any money behind in the vehicle when you return it (in my case, several Susan B. Anthony silver dollars), the employees who vacuum the car for the next customer consider the cash a thoughtful tip.

Apparently that sort of thinking also applies to nail salons, as one Fifth Avenue resident discovered on Oct. 6. The victim, a 64-year-old woman, told the police that she visited a Madison Avenue and 67th Street nail salon and spa around 12:30 p.m. to get a manicure and a hand massage.

As anyone who’s ever had a memorable hand massage can tell you, the results can be rather transporting, as they evidently were for this victim. As is protocol, the woman placed her jewelry-a $6,000 platinum and diamond Tiffany ring, a watch and a couple of less valuable rings-on the counter and abandoned herself to the experience.

It wasn’t until 7:30 that evening-by which time the store had closed-that the woman realized she’d left her jewelry behind. When she returned to the salon the next day, it was gone.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

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