Pick-Up Game Gone Awry
Comes Back to Haunt
Barneys is the sort of place where you expect to run into the occasional celebrity and the junior set of the ladies who lunch. However, you don’t expect to encounter someone who punched you at a playground pick-up basketball game, as one alleged victim did on April 21.
The man was shopping at the esteemed department store when he spotted his opponent, a York Avenue resident, whom he claims socked him in the eye during a Sept. 7, 2002, dispute at John Jay Park on East 77th Street.
At that time, the suspect reportedly fled and the victim filed a complaint at the 19th Precinct. That was the last he saw of the pugilist until April 21, when he spotted him at Barneys and then followed him and his wife, with whom the suspect was shopping, to Prada, where the victim called 911.
Police Officer Anthony Laboccetta, who took the victim’s original crime report back in September, responded to the scene and placed the suspect, a 34-year-old male, under arrest.
“He was surprised,” Officer Laboccetta said. “His wife was in shock.”
The alleged perp was removed to the 19th Precinct stationhouse, where he contended that it was he who was the real victim. “This guy has a witness where the ‘victim’ and his friends chased him down the block,” said another police officer. “A doorman had to get them off of him.”
As of 4:30 p.m. on the day of the arrest, the cops were still trying to sort out the competing stories, with at least one police officer of the impression that the incident didn’t merit wasting the criminal justice system’s precious resources. “It was a fight at a basketball game,” she shrugged.
While many parents and children believe their schools descend into a state of hibernation during vacations, that apparently isn’t the case at all, as a March 14 incident at the Buckley School, at 113 East 73rd Street, suggests.
The elite private school reported that over spring break there was much activity at the school-unfortunately, not all of it legal. A total of $7,316 worth of property was stolen from numerous locations throughout the building. This included two digital cameras, valued at $6,000 and $1,200; a $20 pair of wire cutters; and several boxes of felt-tip markers (16 to a box) worth $76.
School officials told the police that “numerous outside contractors” were assigned to clean and repair the building during the break. Unfortunately, it may be hard to find the perps, as the crime scene was described as “contaminated” by the police-meaning that so many people have since passed through the area that it would be virtually impossible to recover the perps’ fingerprints.
There are those who believe the conventional rules of property ownership don’t apply to umbrellas. To them, the devices are community property, available to one and all. So what if somebody actually paid for the umbrella, had the presence of mind-which the crook lacked-to schlep it along when they went out, and now is going to get soaking wet because the thief was so damn selfish? (If this reporter sounds annoyed, it’s only because more than a couple of his beloved umbrellas have been stolen in just this manner.)
In any case, the so-called victim of the following incident told the police that he was walking through the lobby of the Melrose Hotel at 140 East 63rd Street on April 14 when he stopped by the front desk and helped himself to an umbrella that happened to be sitting there, “Because it was raining,” he explained.
His new umbrella firmly in hand, he then proceeded to the Equinox gym, whose entrance is off the hotel lobby. What the victim, a 49-year-old East 63rd Street resident, didn’t anticipate was that the hotel’s doorman didn’t share his communistic attitudes. He pursued the suspect and pushed him to get the umbrella back, pointing out that it was the property of the hotel. Furthermore, it turns out, the victim wasn’t even a guest there. The victim had no visible injuries, though he complained of back pain and filed an assault complaint against his attacker.
Remember that old Marx Brothers routine where, after a hapless porter struggles with the boys’ steamer trunks, Groucho tantalizes him with his tip, but then pulls it out of reach when the poor youth tries to grab it?
Well, something like that occurred on April 14, when a perp purchased a pack of cigarettes with a $100 bill from a newsstand at 132 East 86th Street. After the newsstand owner gave him the change back from his hundred- $92.80-the bandit stated, “Give me the money,” grabbed his C-note back and fled on foot eastbound on 86th Street.
The cops responded to the scene, but the newsstand operator-perhaps too deep in despair-declined to canvass the area with them.
Dylan’s Candy Bar, at 1011 Third Avenue, is a sufficiently enchanting space, what with its candy-themed décor and many sugary distractions. So it’s not hard to understand how someone could let her guard down and lose track of her property, as a California resident did on April 11.
The victim, a 43-year-old woman, placed her bag on a table in the soda-fountain area when she received a phone call (receiving calls on your cell phone seems almost as much a part of the Dylan’s experience as purchasing Harry Potter magic jelly beans or one of their rather overpriced but extremely handsome ice-cream-and-lollipop-decorated T-shirts).
Upon finishing her conversation, the shopper noticed that her bag had been swiped. It included checks from the Wells Fargo bank, $50 in cash, her California driver’s license and a Coach make-up bag.
Anyone can steal something when no one’s looking. But it takes talent to do so when you’re being closely watched, as one shoplifter was on April 13 at the P.C. Richards store at 205 East 86th Street.
A salesperson spotted the customer at around 2:50 p.m., pacing back and forth in the computer section. The complainant kept an eye on the suspect as he began playing with one of the computers. The next thing the worker knew, the suspect left the store with his jacket tossed over his shoulder with the suavity of Hugh Grant.
What the employee didn’t realize: apparently hidden beneath the jacket-as difficult as it might be to visualize-was the $1,599 Sony laptop the perp had just been playing with. How else to explain the fact that the computer was missing when the salesman checked? No one else had been in the computer department at that time. The perp fled westbound on 86th Street.
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.