Crime Blotter

Halloween Reveler Reports Incident to News Channel

As Halloweens go on the Upper East Side, this year’s was a relatively sedate one. At least it was until around 3:20 a.m. on Nov. 1, when a woman dressed as the Cat in the Hat arrived at Fox 5’s 205 East 67th Street studios carrying a bag of suspected anthrax.

The visitor, who apparently wanted to be interviewed on air, told an assignment-desk editor that she had been attending the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade when, at around 6:45 p.m., a man disguised as Dracula approached her at the corner of Spring Street and the Avenue of the Americas and handed her a packet containing white powder.

Lest there be any doubt as to its contents-until rather recently, a glassine envelope filled with white powder exchanging hands in the Village would have been more likely to contain Bolivian marching powder than a weapon of mass destruction-the blood-sucking Transylvanian informed her that the packet held anthrax.

If you’ve ever attended the venerable parade, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the creativity of the costumes, not to mention their contemporaneity (I recall, in particular, the disgruntled A.T.M. customer one year who dressed as a cantilevered skyscraper and wore a sign that identified him as “Shitibank”). So it would have been logical to assume that the packets of white powder that Dracula-who, by the way, had an American accent-was distributing were ironic props intended to comment on the state of world affairs, thus completing the scary effect of his costume.

And, at first, the victim dismissed them as such. “So she continued partying,” according to the NYPD, “but later reconsidered and thought that her experience was possibly newsworthy.”

“Here’s a woman,” said a cop, shaking his head, “who has a suspicious envelope, traipsing with it all over the city-uptown, downtown.”

At 4:12 a.m. police officers from the 19th Precinct, conveniently located a mere city block west of Fox 5’s Studios, responded to the scene and interviewed the victim. She told them much the same story she had recounted to the assignment editor. Apparently, she’d decided to share the incident with Fox 5 rather than, say, the UPN or NBC “because she likes their news coverage,” the police said.

The cops were also informed by the members of the news crew that the female, a 37-year-old New Jersey resident, has a history of following Fox news crews around. Nonetheless, taking no chances, the officers summoned the Emergency Service Unit, which removed the evidence to a Department of Health lab.

Furthermore, both the NYPD’s counterterrorism division and their weapons-of-mass-destruction desk were notified of the incident, fulfilling (at least in some small way) the Cat in the Hat’s wish to become a newsmaker. The investigation is ongoing. Dracula-cover your necks and don your Hazmat suits if you desire-remains at large.

Trick or Treat

Rest assured that Halloween can still be counted on to serve as a backdrop for more prosaic crimes, as demonstrated by another Halloween-related incident that occurred earlier that evening. An East 86th Street resident told the police she believes she was the victim of a pickpocket who took advantage of the holiday spirit.

She was visiting the CVS drugstore at Lexington Avenue and 88th Street at 5:15 p.m. when a store employee offered the woman’s young son, who was in costume, some candy. The victim, 46, whose hands were full at the time-not only with her kid, but also with her dog-thought nothing of the gesture at that moment.

She dropped the dog off at home and continued with her son on to an East 91st Street Halloween party. Both mother and son apparently enjoyed themselves thoroughly, because they didn’t depart until 9 p.m., hailing a cab to take them back to 86th Street.

It was only as she got ready to pay her fare that the woman realized her wallet was missing. A theft was more than confirmed when she got home, called her credit-card companies to cancel her cards, and was informed that $5,000 in purchases had already been charged with them.

The last time the victim had seen her wallet (which contained $140 in cash, photos, her driver’s license and A.T.M. receipts) was back at the drugstore after she had paid for some film and put the wallet back in her outside coat pocket-which would seem to indicate that you should never take candy from strangers.


The beauty of the Internet is that now, not only pickpockets at your local drugstore or deli, but people halfway around the world, can steal your identity, as one bank customer discovered on Oct. 17.

The victim, a 29-year-old Third Avenue resident, visited the Fleet Bank at 1143 Lexington Avenue at 8:20 a.m. When she attempted to withdraw money from her account, she undoubtedly experienced that sinking feeling that comes from discovering your available balance is zero-particularly when it wasn’t anything close to that the last time you checked.

The victim informed the bank, which investigated the case and discovered that her account had been drained by somebody in Indonesia, who used the cash to purchase a 990 Shimano Dura-Ace time-trial kit-high-end bike-racing equipment-from an establishment called River City Bicycles for $2,350.

The women managed to cancel the Indonesian bicyclist’s transaction and get all her money back.

Ralph Gardner Jr. may be reached at Crime Blotter