Crime Blotter

Boston Driver Learns Hard Way

About N.Y.C.’s Mean Streets

Anyone who has parked a car in a New York City garage-particularly if they enjoy the convenience, despite the exorbitant expense, of being a monthly customer who’s on a first-name basis with the staff-has, at one time or another, wondered whether it’s necessary to deliver the keys into the hands of the attendant, or if it’s O.K. just to leave them in the car.

The correct answer, as a recent incident suggests, is to make sure the keys are snugly in the fist of your friendly garage attendant before you bid your vehicle adieu.

At 1:35 a.m. on Oct. 18, a resident of Boston drove her brand-new $60,000 silver BMW X5 sport utility vehicle up to an East 84th Street garage. Life is apparently gentler on Boston’s Beacon Street, where the victim lives, than in Manhattan, because she believed it was safe to leave her keys in the ignition while she walked approximately 20 feet to talk to a garage employee.

During that brief interval, she heard her car start behind her. Unfortunately, the driver wasn’t a second attendant, but an unknown perp who, in the time it took the 31-year-old woman to turn around, backed up and fled in reverse at an improvident rate of speed westbound along 84th Street (an eastbound street) before vanishing entirely.

The police canvassed the area, but with negative results. They also gave a heads-up to the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx, because two other late-model BMW S.U.V.’s were recently stolen from the Upper East Side and discovered in that distant precinct. “We figured we’d give it a shot,” explained a police official. Unfortunately, that effort also failed to produce the car.

Jetta Joy Ride

In another case of strange goings-on at a Manhattan garage, the owner of a Volkswagen Jetta was informed by the employees at his East 91st Street garage that at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20, they had received a call requesting that they get his car ready for a spin.

A short time later, numerous teenagers, led by one with a set of car keys, arrived at the garage and left with the vehicle. It was returned two hours later. The car’s owner, a 27-year-old East 87th Street resident, told the cops that the Jetta’s spare set of keys had been missing for a couple of weeks. Apparently, the garage attendant’s description of the motorist who took the vehicle closely resembled that of a 17-year-old neighbor who walks the car owner’s dog while he’s at work.

The victim filed a complaint for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle at the 19th Precinct and cited the dog-walker as someone the police might like to meet.

A Singh by Any

Other Name

A taxi driver-perhaps believing he could take advantage of the fact that half the residents of the Indian subcontinent seem to be named Singh (at least judging by the names on the hack licenses displayed in New York City cabs)-was arrested on Oct. 19 after allegedly impersonating a different Singh.

The driver was stopped by a police officer around 1:30 a.m. after he ran a red light while traveling westbound on East 72nd Street at York Avenue. When the officer asked to see some ID, the driver allegedly produced both a driver’s license and a Taxi and Limousine Commission license in the name of one Ranjeet Singh.

“This is me,” he allegedly said when the police officer apparently exhibited some doubt that he was indeed the person pictured on the license. So the cop asked the cabby his date of birth-under normal circumstances, not an especially difficult question.

Unfortunately, the suspect couldn’t remember his birthday, and during his investigation the officer also discovered an ID card on the suspect in the name of a different Singh, first name Satnam. Mr. Satnam Singh, 31, was subsequently arrested for criminal impersonation.

Thrift at Rockefeller

Research labs such as Rockefeller University, that well-groomed watering hole for Nobel laureates at 1230 York Avenue, may not seem likely locations for crime (with the possible

exception of scientific fraud), but one staffer reported the theft of her computer from the esteemed center for higher learning on Oct. 17.

The victim informed the police that she’d placed her property, a two-year-old Dell Inspiron 5000 laptop, on a desk in a lab in the Weiss Building shortly after 10 a.m. She left the lab at 5:30 p.m., and when she returned at 8:30 (10-hour days aren’t unusual when you’re experimenting with microorganisms that don’t punch out at 5 p.m.), an unknown person had removed her computer. While Rockefeller is rather well-guarded against intruders, the victim noted that her lab is kept unlocked and open to other members of the university staff.

In a separate incident that occurred over the summer, Rockefeller itself filed a complaint with the 19th Precinct, stating that between July 14 and Aug. 19, an unknown person apparently decided to build his own library using scientific journals purloined from the university.

A Rockefeller security supervisor reported that 32 volumes of what were described as “cell medical research journals” and valued at $1,600 were

removed from a sixth-floor research

library. Additionally, the unknown

perp absconded with 12 volumes of the journal Neuron , valued at $600. The

security officer added that the library – undoubtedly to prevent the plundering of its archives by scientists too thrifty to subscribe to their favorite publications-is generally kept locked.

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

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