Police officers from the 19th Precinct responded to a burglar alarm at 929 Madison Avenue, a commercial building, at 5:04 a.m. on April 23. When they arrived, they thought there was something fishy going on-not with the alarm (which turned out to be false), but with the NYPD sergeant moonlighting as a security guard.
“He had a diamond stud in his nose and an even bigger earring in his ear,” said a member of New York’s Finest, a force whose fashion sense is typically more subdued. “He looked like friggin’ Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs.”
However, other than the attention-getting jewelry, the guard-who, it turns out, was not the legendary music impresario-seemed entirely legitimate. “He looked the part, right down to the trousers,” said Deputy Inspector James K. Rogers, the commanding officer of the 19th Precinct.
The deputy inspector noted that the suspect’s pants bore the broad gold stripe common to the uniforms of those ranked sergeant and above. And he even had hash marks on his NYPD jersey, signifying that he had 15 years on the job.
“But he forgot one part of the equation,” the deputy inspector added. “He wasn’t a police officer.”
Adding to the cops’ suspicions was the fact that they were unaware of a police sergeant moonlighting in their precinct-something they felt they surely would’ve been aware of. So the officers started to play NYPD Blue –ish geography with the guard. “It was like, ‘You work in such-and-such precinct,'” Deputy Inspector Rogers said. “‘Do you know John? Do you know Steve?'”
Eventually, the suspect confessed that he wasn’t really a cop. And when the police searched his car, they discovered a nine-millimeter handgun. “But not a real one,” a police officer stated. “It was one of those paint guns.”
They also found two authentic (and stolen) NYPD parking permits-one from the Sixth Precinct and another from the 30th Precinct. The suspect, a 41-year-old male, was arrested for impersonating a police officer and possession of stolen property.
“I commend the officers,” Deputy Inspector Rogers said. “The guy’s in uniform. He has a story. He looks the part. He talks the part. In terms of the heightened state of alert these days, it’s not the time to be impersonating a police officer.”
The inspector added that the investigation is continuing into how and where the suspect managed to purchase an apparently authentic NYPD uniform. “We’re trying to work on that angle as well,” he said.
Gone in a Flash
No matter how jaded you may think you are, there’s always something to surprise you on Manhattan’s streets-not all of it magical, as a 26-year-old East 19th Street resident discovered on April 28.
The victim had just left her apartment when she noticed a male in his 20’s or 30’s, sitting on the stoop of the building next-door. The suspect also had a blanket over his lap.
“As I walked by, he stood up so the blanket came off,” the woman recalled. “He was not wearing pants. He was masturbating.”
He also screamed out a desire that’s best left unreported. “I started running up the block,” the victim said. “I turned into Irving Place and called 911 on my cell phone. They said, ‘Sorry you had to see that, ma’am,’ and that they’d send a police officer.”
The police canvassed the area, with negative results.
There’s no telling what crooks will steal off the back of a truck when the opportunity strikes. Nonetheless, you’d think they might draw the line, no matter how tempting the booty may be, when the item in question is the size of a piano, or even is an actual piano. But no: An unknown perp-probably more than one-couldn’t pass up the chance to own an upright when he (or they) spotted it sitting in a truck parked on the southeast corner of 83rd Street and Lexington Avenue on April 19 at 12:30 p.m.
While the truck’s driver was off making another piano pickup from a nearby building, the thief or thieves opened the rear of the vehicle and fled on foot with the prize, an upright piano valued at $1,300, pushing it along on a dolly with the apt (or perhaps not) name “Arrow Express” written on it.
The police responded to the scene and, following scratch marks left by the instrument on the sidewalk, found the piano intact-if with some damage to its bottom-at 82nd Street and Third Avenue.
While no perp was arrested, a police official said the incident might serve as a cautionary tale. “You shouldn’t steal a piano on foot,” he observed. “Next time, bring a truck.”
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.