With Helpers Like These,
Who Needs Hinderers? The problem with being able to afford lots of household help is that when your jewelry goes missing, it’s hard to sort through all the possible suspects: maids, nannies, drivers, personal assistants, yoga instructors, etc.
That’s the dilemma Diandra Douglas, gal about town and former wife of movie star Michael Douglas, confronted on July 22 when she discovered $276,000 worth of her valuable knick-knacks stolen.
A lesser mortal might be able to limit his or her list of suspects to one or two, but Ms. Douglas’ East 69th Street apartment seemed to be chockablock with retainers at the time of the theft. They included her personal assistant, two housekeepers, her masseuse and her computer technician.
The possibility that the thief was a member of her staff was supported by the fact that there were no signs of forced entry. Among the stolen baubles were a $40,000 gold tiger-claw necklace, a $16,000 Cartier deco pendant, two $36,000 gold intaglio rings, $52,000 diamond-teardrop earrings and a $45,000 antique gold Indian bracelet.
A 19th Precinct sergeant responded to the scene. The case had also been referred to an NYPD evidence-collection team and the 19th Precinct detective squad.
Midnight Sun Don’t Shine Here
On July 13, a 31-year-old resident of Oslo, Norway, was attempting to withdraw cash from a Citibank A.T.M. at 1078 Third Avenue at 12:05 a.m.-an hour when the sun still shines brightly back home this time of year, but when New York, unfortunately, remains shrouded in darkness. It likely was the cover of night that emboldened the two ladies who, posing as tourists, approached the young man moments after he had finished his banking business.
As he exited the bank, the women stopped him and asked for directions. The Norwegian tried to help them, but explained that he was a visitor himself. One might deduce that, despite his inability to assist them and the brevity of their encounter, a certain degree of intimacy flowered, since the women evidently got close enough to pick his pockets.
After he walked off, the man noticed that the $300 he’d just taken out was missing. So were his Visa and American Express Gold cards. Shortly after his discovery, he called his bank in Oslo and learned that the ladies had helped themselves to an additional $1,640 off his Visa.
If nothing else, in future cases of emergency, the Norwegian will at least be able to supply other tourists with directions to a station house-he dropped by the 19th Precinct in person to file a grand-larceny complaint against his assailants.
On May 8, a pair of $1,250 black crocodile dress shoes vanished from the front window of Church’s English Shoes, 689 Madison Avenue. As was reported in these pages on June 2, this was the second such incident at the store.
Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to determine whether the same shoe slave was behind both incidents, since nobody saw the Church’s crocs take flight and the store security camera, while functioning properly at the time, isn’t focused on the front window-or at least wasn’t at the time.
Yet another thief with a weakness for crocodile kickers struck on July 1. An individual, identified as a 20-year-old male, visited Santoni, at 864 Madison Avenue, and absconded with a pair of $3,000 brown crocodile dress shoes.
An employee at the boutique told the cops that he was helping the suspect try on a pair of the pricey pumps when he briefly departed to retrieve another size. When he returned, both the customer and the shoes had departed in an unknown direction.
Chew and Screw
It’s one thing to rip off somebody’s purse at the restaurant where you’re both dining. But it really takes gall when you not only rob one of your fellow diners but, despite your newfound wealth, you refuse to pay for your own meal.
Just such a series of events occurred at Sala Thai, a restaurant at 1718 Second Avenue, on July 7. That evening, according to a waiter who witnessed the crime, a customer raided the purse a diner had left behind when she paid a visit to the rest room.
Now $251 richer, the suspect compounded her crookedness by attempting to depart without paying for her own meal. This act of severe impoliteness was promptly pointed out to the crook by the waiter who intercepted her as she tried to flee. He suggested both that she settle her bill and return the money to her victim.
The perp refused. And, as if that weren’t enough, she took a swing at the waiter, striking him in the face and causing physical injury. The 31-year-old thief was detained until the police arrived and charged her with robbery.
Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.