Crime Blotter

Cat Burglar’s Prowl

Comes to Abrupt Halt

On Jan. 13, the cops at the 19th Precinct detective squad played host to a cat burglar-or rather, as of 4 p.m. that afternoon, a former cat burglar.

“He’s writing out a confession as we’re talking,” reported a detective, referring to the suspect in question. The man was arrested before he could rob his intended victim, a 26-year-old woman, in the early-morning hours of that same day. The victim had heard a noise outside the window of her East 84th Street apartment, spotted the perp on her fire escape and called 911.

Police Officers Larry Bennett and James Willer promptly arrived at the scene, where they also witnessed the perp, not on the fire escape, but walking along East 83rd Street. A pursuit on foot resulted in the suspect’s capture (following a tussle with the two officers) on 83rd Street. He was wearing a virtual cat-burglar uniform-black sweat suit and cap-and carrying a handy flashlight.

“Cat burglars are few and far between these days,” the detective observed. “It’s very nervy to go in when somebody’s home”- particularly, he might have added, given the cramped quarters that New Yorkers are prone to live in, which increase the chances of an encounter.

The police suspect that the crook may have pulled as many as 10 such burglaries. But at the time he was penning his confession, he had admitted to only one other, besides the crime for which he was arrested. The second incident to which he’d confessed occurred around 7 p.m. on Dec. 29. “A woman came home from work,” the detective said, “went to the bathroom and he was hiding in the shower.” The perp apparently fled without taking anything.

“We’ve got eight or 10 cases that are similar,” the detective said. “But we’re taking it slow with him. A little at a time.”

Repeat Customer

When a customer returns to the same restaurant again and again, it’s usually seen as a compliment. Not so the perp who keeps coming back to the Tramway Coffee Shop, at 1143 Second Avenue. His last visit occurred around 4 a.m. on Jan. 6, when he entered the establishment shouting at the manager and the few customers who were lingering at that unfathomable hour, and threatening that he was going to “shoot the place up.”

On previous visits, an employee told the cops, their assailant has stolen tips off tables and even slipped behind the counter and helped himself to food. Telling him to get lost-as diner employees have on numerous occasions over the last three months-apparently does little good. And to make matters worse, his visits haven’t exactly been good for business. “Many customers have left the restaurant during his visits,” the beleaguered employee told the police.

Better Than Banks

While the spate of recent bank robberies-and the near effortlessness with which they’ve been accomplished-suggests that robbing banks doesn’t fall into the category of skilled labor, you have to wonder why these folks even bother to pull off this sort of stunt when it’s so easy to steal by simply using other people’s bank cards.

A 32-year-old female resident of lower Manhattan told the police that she lost her bank card somewhere downtown around Dec. 19. It was recovered, all right, but not by some knight in shining armor. The card was honored at no less than three banks-two in Brooklyn and one on East 72nd Street. The perp managed to cash two checks and make three withdrawals from tellers using the card, for a total of $11,322.74.

Love for Sale

An East 86th Street resident met a young lady-whose name he forgot to get-on Jan. 3 at Decade, a First Avenue dance and supper club. But when the chemistry’s right, as the fellow thought it was, names aren’t really that important, it seems. The couple left the bar together at around 1 a.m.

Among the after-hours spots they hit was an A.T.M., where the man withdrew an undisclosed amount of cash. While his date-described as a 26-year-old, 5-foot-8, 120-pound female sporting black cowboy boots-was undoubtedly enchanted by her suitor’s charms, her infatuation didn’t extend as far as having sex for free. And when they reached his apartment, she told him so in unadorned language: “Give me money for sex,” she demanded.

Her suitor, apparently still under the impression that she liked him for himself, declined, and then-perhaps realizing her romantic instincts left something to be desired-asked her to leave. She did so, but not before taking a souvenir of her brief visit. When the victim awoke the next morning, he discovered his Chase bank card was missing.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at Crime Blotter