Crime Blotter

Crooks Say ‘No’ and ‘Two Dollars’

Are Not Good Answers

When confronted by a robber, should one hand over one’s cash or stand one’s ground? A couple of recent incidents suggest that the former is by far the shrewder course of action-and producing a respectable amount of cash and credit cards is also not a bad idea. Even if it means a temporary loss of self-esteem the next time you face yourself in the bathroom mirror, at least you won’t have to do so with a shiner.

In the first incident, on Sept. 27, a 12-year-old Fifth Avenue lad was walking along that attractive boulevard around 7 p.m. when he was approached by six or seven male and female teenagers on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 94th Street.

“Give me your money,” one of the males stated. To which the victim replied that he didn’t have any money and started to walk away. This would probably have been the wrong response under any circumstances-the victim estimated his assailant to be 6-foot-4, though only about 15 years old-but especially because there were ladies present. If there’s anything more ignominious for a perp than losing face, it’s losing face in front of his women.

So the perp punched the youth in the face, causing a bloody nose, before he and his coed posse departed in an unknown direction. The victim, whose wounds weren’t sufficient to prevent him from going away for the weekend, filed a complaint at the 19th Precinct upon his return.

In a Sept. 25 incident, also involving aggressively self-assertive bandits, a 52-year-old Columbus Avenue resident reported to the police that he was entering the subway station at Lexington Avenue and 96th Street at around 5 p.m. when he encountered two men coming up the stairs.

One of them stated, “Give me your money.” In this case, the victim didn’t feign poverty. He admitted he had money, only not a lot of it. “I just have $2,” he replied. The second man didn’t appreciate his answer and socked him in the eye. Then both men fled in an unknown direction. Rather than boarding the subway and continuing on to his original destination, the victim took private transportation to the hospital.

Unfair Fare

If a driver, be he a cabbie or a livery-car chauffer, is truly off-duty, he’d best not slow down and give New Yorkers-who tend to be rather opportunistic by nature-a chance to hop aboard, as one livery driver learned, to his misfortune, on Sept. 19.

At around 2 a.m., the driver stepped out of his vehicle at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 80th Street to remove his jacket. Two men were standing nearby. One of them asked in a gentlemanly tone whether the driver’s vehicle “was available for a ride.”

As it turned out, the suspect’s

civility was less than heartfelt. When the driver explained that he was off-

duty, the perp stated, “You’re gonna

drive.” And to make his prediction come true, he removed an automatic handgun from his waistband.

The villains didn’t just want to take a spin around the corner, either. They had the chauffeur drive them all the way to East Houston Street and Avenue D, where one of the crooks-his jocularity having revived on the way downtown-informed the driver that it was “his lucky day.”

He was apparently being facetious, because the next thing he said was: “Get out of the car.” Intelligently, the driver did as he was told, and his assailants fled with his vehicle westbound on Houston Street.

Off-Duty Poser

Anyone can relate to the frustration of visiting a favorite store and being informed that it’s just closed for the evening. However, most of us don’t express our disappointment to the extreme that one shopper did at the Gap on 85th Street and Third Avenue.

On Oct. 6, shortly before 9 p.m., the suspect approached a security guard and, when informed the establishment was closed for business, identified himself as an off-duty police officer and flashed a fake NYPD identification card.

This gesture would undoubtedly have impressed almost anyone, given the high esteem in which we hold our uniformed forces these days-anyone, that is, who isn’t himself an off-duty member of the NYPD, as it turned out the Gap guard was. When the sentry still refused the suspect admission, the perp-perhaps sensing at this point that he was up against a real cop-snapped, “I’m going to jam you up!”

The meaning of his threat became clear approximately one minute after the perp had left the scene, when the first of five 911 calls was made to the Police Department emergency line. The troublemaker phoned in a “10-13”-police code for an officer in need of assistance. He explained that an off-duty cop was yelling at a male in front of the Gap. The police responded promptly to the scene-as they always do when one of their own is potentially in distress-and were informed by their off-duty colleague of the dispute that had led to the harassing phone call.

However, that didn’t stop the perp. He placed another 911 call 10 minutes later, and then three more calls after that. The cops canvassed the area, but with negative results.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at Crime Blotter