Crime Blotter

‘Rogue Sales Tax’

Sweeps Upper East Side

While the Bush administration may be working overtime to make sure the wealthiest 1 percent of the country weathers the current recession as painlessly as possible, those further down the economic ladder-much further-seem to be expending almost as much energy to guarantee that the pain caused by the economic downturn is spread as equitably as possible.

On Jan. 25, a Greenwich, Conn., resident reported to the police that her $10,000 full-length mink coat was stolen while she was dining at the Atlantic Grill, at 1341 Third Avenue. She had checked her mink at the door before dinner, but when she went to retrieve it after her meal, at 10:50 p.m., it was gone.

The coat checker on duty informed the victim, a 42-year-old woman, that the restaurant employs several workers as coat checkers, and that one of them had in fact quit while the Connecticut woman was dining. The restaurant (the former Jim McMullen’s) was canvassed for the coat, with negative results.

The staff also viewed the security-camera tape that had captured the departure that evening of the coat checker who’d quit. However, the film showed that she’d left empty-handed, carrying neither the missing mink nor the mess of other possessions that the well-appointed victim had also checked.

The spoils included a $300 Palm Pilot in a $200 Louis Vuitton Palm Pilot case, a pair of riding boots (size 8), a pair of $275 tan riding pants, a $550 Bottega Veneta brown pocketbook, $500 worth of makeup, a pink cashmere turtleneck valued at $575 and a $300 pair of Oliver Peoples sunglasses.

In another possible case of the rich being subjected to a rogue sales tax, a 960 Park Avenue resident told the cops that her $400,000 diamond ring vanished from her bathroom on Jan. 22. The victim, a 47-year-old woman, informed the authorities that she’d placed the ring-described as a 14-carat, light blue and white oval-shaped diamond in a platinum setting-on her bathroom sink at 9 p.m. When she returned, it was gone. Those with access to her apartment included her two housekeepers and a dog walker.

A police officer cautioned her not to assume that this was a case of class warfare-even though it would take walking a lot of poodles or dusting a lot of knickknacks to be able to afford a bauble of that value. “Something tells me when she opens the drain, that’s where it’s going to be,” the cop said.

Poor Reception

There are lots of different ways to separate the rich from their money. Some go for the big score; others, such as the fake cable-TV repairman who visited a building at 94th Street and Fifth Avenue on Jan. 24, make their fortune incrementally. The suspect, who gained access to the building by showing the staff what appeared to be a valid Time Warner ID card, knocked on an apartment door at around 4 p.m. and told the housekeeper, “I’m from Time Warner. Do you have cable?”

The unsuspecting domestic ushered him into the apartment and let him check the TV. The perp told her that if she gave him $30, he’d be back in 30 minutes to “hook up the cable.”

She forked over the cash and he left, never to return. Further investigation revealed that the suspect used the same M.O. on the same day at the same address in order to gain access to another apartment-and apparently also to secure another retainer for his nonexistent services.

Subway Royalty

While the typical chain snatcher is thought to be a male, women-for example, the two who preyed on a female victim as she disembarked the subway at 77th Street and Lexington Avenue on Jan. 2-have also been known to yank at the occasional chain when they believe the object in question would complement their wardrobe.

The jewelry that caught the attention of the two women was a “diamond-cut” necklace from which dangled an attention-getting charm that read “Princess.” However, since we don’t live in a hereditary monarchy, the perps apparently decided they deserved the title just as much as the necklace’s owner, a 32-year-old Bronx resident. So one of them tried to grab it while the other clawed the complainant across the face, causing deep scratches to her left cheek.

However, just because one is a member of the nobility doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to fight back. The victim grabbed her property out of the air just as it broke away from the chain-and before it could fall into the unworthy hands of her greedy assailants. Her vanquished foes fled in an unknown direction, and the victim proceeded to the 19th Precinct to view mug shots of commoners known to attempt such crimes.

Im-Patient

We’ve all experienced the annoyance-even anger-that comes with being made to wait in a doctor’s office for hours on end. But few display their pique as frankly as the gentleman who visited an East 95th Street doctor’s office on Jan. 24.

Rather than stewing silently while flipping through the waiting-room copy of People , as some of us might, the patient started yelling and throwing chairs. Then announcing “I’m going to see the doctor!”, he pushed a medical assistant out of the way and rushed into his physician’s office.

Security was called and they, in turn, alerted the police. The perp, an East 105th Street resident, was arrested for harassment and carted off to the station house without so much as a temporary prescription for Prozac.

Ralph Gardner can be reached at rgard135@aol.com. Crime Blotter