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Upholding an Ancient Tradition, New York Drivers Rage On Your cautious Crime Blotter reporter has a rule when it comes

Upholding an Ancient Tradition,

New York Drivers Rage On

Your cautious Crime Blotter reporter has a rule when it comes to road rage: The homicidal maniac in the next vehicle is always right. Following are several examples of why this is a rational principle.

On April 11, a motorist demanded $250 from a fellow driver after a minor accident at 60th Street and Park Avenue. When the other motorist balked at the shakedown, the perp popped him in the left eye-the victim’s eyeglasses apparently giving him no pause whatsoever-before fleeing in an unknown direction.

On April 13, another motorist, this one driving a car with Virginia plates, reached through the window of a car being driven by a 26-year-old New Jersey woman that was stopped for a red light at the northeast corner of the F.D.R. Drive and 61st Street. He started to shake her violently back and forth over some perceived breach of road etiquette, tearing the front and back of her shirt and causing scratches on her back and chest, before he, too, fled in an unknown direction.

Two days earlier, a dallying pedestrian with anger-management problems, who apparently believed he was in Phoenix (where pedestrians have the right of way), jumped in front of a car waiting for a red light to change and shouted: “Hold the fuck up!”

In case the driver missed the point, the perp then opened his door and punched him in the face. Where’s a cop when you need one? Witnessing the incident, in this instance. The officer came over and placed the assailant under arrest-though not before being kicked several times by him.

And finally, on April 17, a cabby, believing that the motorist in the next car was making an already challenging day even harder, got out of his cab, grabbed his adversary by the neck and head-butted him, causing a half-inch laceration and a bruise to his forehead above the right eye. While the perp got away, his victim was able to trace him through the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The case remains under investigation.

Osama Was Here

It’s not a good sign when graffiti artists can get away with scrawling on a well-guarded, heavily fortified facility like the Seventh Regiment Armory at Park Avenue and 66th Street. But it’s even more disturbing when the graffiti in question is terrorist-related.

A member of the New York State National Guard visited the 19th Precinct on May 22 to report that some rather disturbing graffiti, written in black magic marker, had been penned on the side of the red brick fortress. It said: “OSAR [with a backwards R] US,” with a drawing of a machine gun under the word “intifadah” and then, below that, “Allah Akbar” or (“God Is Great”). There was some dispute at the stationhouse about what “OSAR” stood for, with one Middle Easternist asserting it was some sort of abbreviation for Osama, while a second insisted it was an acronym made up of the names of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat. Whatever it is, the cops won’t have the artist to help explain his intentions, since a canvass of the area ended with negative results.

Cheese Whiz

William Poll, where old money buys its cheese twists and celery root, suffered a break-in on May 24. Unknown perps, apparently armed with a set of keys since there was no sign of forced entry, visited the store around 10 p.m. and stole a cash register containing $14,350-the approximate cost of a batch of the store’s signature potato thins and a container of chedy-chut dipping sauce. The 19th Precinct Detective squad and an NYPD evidence collection team were notified.

Pickpocketing With Politesse

What better M.O. to baffle your victim with than to befriend her after you’ve picked her pocket? That’s what happened on April 16, when a woman boarded a subway car at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue at 9:45 a.m. As she did, a male described as six feet tall and weighing 240 pounds gave her a shove onto the train.

But after he did so-picking her purse at the same time, she later discovered-instead of acting all sheepish or suspicious, he played the gent, feigning concern and asking her, “Are you all right?” “Yes, I’m fine,” she answered, undoubtedly moved by his good manners. “Sorry I pushed you,” he added.

In that spirit of bonhomie, the two rode down to Grand Central Terminal, where they disembarked and walked off in different directions. Shortly after that, the victim received a call from Capital One, her credit provider, wondering whether she was aware of a flurry of transactions on her card. It was apparently only at that point that she discovered the zipper on her handbag open and her black leather Ferragamo wallet missing.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

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