Crime Blotter

Finicky Fares Get Ride

They Hadn’t Bargained For

A calculation that all of us have to make at one time or another (with increasing frequency, it seems) has to do with strategies for dealing with a kamikaze cabdriver. If you should have the misfortune of landing one, should you confront him and risk offending him? Or is it better just to fasten your seat belt and pray vehemently?

The latter course of action seems the wiser, if an altercation between a cabby and two female passengers that escalated into a kidnapping in the early morning hours of Dec. 8 is any indication.

The incident was apparently triggered when the ladies expressed their desire for the driver to send some more heat to the back seat. The relationship between the cabby and his fares so deteriorated from there that by the time the destination was reached-or at least the place where the cabby decided to dump the women, at 79th Street and First Avenue-he allegedly grabbed a makeshift weapon out of the trunk and started screaming at his passengers.

“One girl got back in the cab to get his information to make a complaint,” explained 19th Precinct Police Officer Lawrence Bennett, who responded to the scene. “The driver jumped back into the cab and took off,” with the passenger still inside.

The driver took the woman on an involuntary ride for about 15 blocks, the cab door flying open as the victim tried either to summon help or to jump out whenever the vehicle slowed down.

“It was so bad other cabbies tried to pull him over,” Officer Bennett said. “She kept trying to open the door.”

One of the women-Officer Bennett wasn’t sure if it was the hostage or the friend left behind-called 911. The police responded, pulling the vehicle over at 65th Street and Second Avenue and arresting the driver for unlawful imprisonment.

Anecdotally, police believe there are an increasing number of such incidents on the late tour-from midnight to 8 a.m. They say they’re triggered by riders who have had too much to drink and by drivers sorely lacking in interpersonal skills. “They come from other places,” stated one cop of cabdrivers. “They think they can get away with it. They do whatever they want.”

Officer Bennett said he always follows certain procedures when he pulls a cab over. “The first thing I tell the cabby,” he said, “is turn off the meter.”

Undiplomatic

Diplomat

It’s long been suspected that the city’s diplomatic corps think of themselves as superior to the rest of us, entitled to special treatment when it comes to things like parking tickets. But rarely do they have the temerity to come out and actually say so, as one hit-and-run driver did on Nov. 25.

A Brooklyn resident reported that while he was making a right turn onto Park Avenue from 68th Street at 2:14 p.m., his car was struck by a black BMW bearing diplomatic plates. The complainant said that when he suggested that they exchange insurance information, the Beemer’s driver got out of his vehicle, pushed him and stated, “Get the fuck out of here. I do not want to give you any papers. You are inferior to me. I am a diplomat.”

With that, he got back into his car and departed southbound on Park Avenue. The victim had the presence of mind to get his assailant’s license-plate number. A police computer check of the plate revealed that it belonged to a 1988 black BMW registered to the Afghani Consulate to the U.N., at 360 Lexington Avenue.

Labels for Less

Though the economy has gone sour, people’s tastes in haute couture remain as ardent as ever. This state of affairs has forced fashion slaves to come up with innovative new schemes to get their designer fix.

One gentleman reported that he was recently paying his bills online when he discovered that his bank balance was

depressingly lower than it should have been. That’s when he learned that he had purchased $4,053.96 worth of clothes from the Michael Kors boutique at

974 Madison Avenue-only he hadn’t.

Further investigation revealed that the purchases had been charged to his credit card and then delivered to his East Fourth Street address, where they were signed for by somebody standing outside his home. The victim learned the thief’s cell-phone number, which had a Connecticut area code, and called it. However, it had been disconnected.

In another incident that occurred last May, but which wasn’t reported to the police until Nov. 25, Tatiana Designer Retail, at 767 Lexington Avenue, said that a woman described as approximately 60 years old, 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, with wavy hair and wrinkled skin, visited the boutique on May 27. She bought a Vicki Tiel gown costing $1,600, left a deposit and returned two days later to pick it up.

The agreement she made with the store was that she’d leave her credit card with them while she took the dress to her tailor. She did so, in a sealed envelope. But when an employee opened the envelope, she discovered that the card wasn’t a credit card, but a Continental One Pass miles-plus card.

Neither the shopper nor the dress have been seen since, and when the store contacted the perp-a Columbus Avenue resident-she denied ever having received the property. The store filed a grand-larceny complaint against her.

Holiday Safety Tips

The 19th Precinct has asked us to pass along these holiday safety tips, which we’ve edited and annotated somewhat:

1) Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Crooks are less likely to mess with someone who acts like the king of the world (or at least an individual cognizant of his or her surroundings) than a loser or someone with their head in the clouds.

2) When driving, keep your windows closed and your doors locked. Or better yet, take public transportation.

3) If you go the public-transportation route, you’re more prone to becoming the victim of a pickpocket. Therefore, don’t carry lots of cash-but if you must, stow it in unlikely places. Your shoe is one such place. You can undoubtedly come up with others.

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

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