Crime Blotter

Grocer Unwittingly Provides

Writing Accessory to Crime

What could possibly exceed the presumptuousness of a stick-up note? How about borrowing from your intended victim the stationery on which to write it?

That’s what happened on Sept. 8 around 2 a.m., when a perpetrator-described as 5-foot-8 and in his 30’s-visited Annie’s Fruit and Vegetables at 1330 Lexington Avenue and asked for a piece of paper.

An Annie’s employee, who was busy guarding the store’s high-quality produce at that dreary hour, provided the parchment, and the perp wrote this missive: “I have a gun. Empty your drawer.” He also verbally instructed the worker to put the loot in a bag.

The employee did as told, removing an undetermined amount of cash from the register and handing it to the perp.

The suspect may not have been bluffing about carrying a weapon, either (as so many do), since the produce clerk spotted a rather menacing bulge in the perp’s back pocket. The robber fled in an unknown direction. A canvass of the area by the cops had negative results.

Wheels and Meals

In this sorry economy, the number of those depending on the generosity of soup kitchens, such as the one at All Souls Unitarian Church at 1157 Lexington Avenue, has certainly grown.

Nonetheless, the guy who dropped by for a complimentary meal around noon on Sept. 5 may have been taking advantage of the congregation’s kindness. We say that only because the fellow, a 51-year-old East 74th Street resident, reported his bike stolen while he was inside. From the description the victim provided for the police, the bike wasn’t any old rust bucket either, but a $5,000 Moulton maroon New Series with a Dura Ace component. Also taken were his sleeping bag and a duffel bag.

His plight met with something less than sympathy at the 19th Precinct station house. “Now you know how he can afford that bike-free meals,” observed one cash-strapped cop. “I could afford a penthouse, the money I spend buying meals around here,” he added.

Tool on a Stool

If you’re going to visit a bar with a name like the Tool Box, it probably makes sense to be careful whom you take home. That’s quite possibly the lesson learned by one patron of the 1742 Second Avenue establishment on Sept. 1, when he made the acquaintance of another drinker at the bar. Indeed, their friendship progressed so rapidly that by 3 a.m., the two men discovered themselves in bed together back at the victim’s East 90th Street apartment.

Unfortunately, the romance had no legs. When the victim, a 47-year-old male, awoke the next morning, he discovered his guest long gone, together with some of his favorite things.

The missing items included a $350 watch, a $250 ring, a $150 key chain with keys attached and the victim’s cell phone-which might provide the cops with a clue, as the perp placed a call on the device (to a phone number known to the police) at 8:30 the next morning.

Beyond that, the victim couldn’t offer the police much help. He described his date as a 6-foot-1 male but hadn’t gotten his name, first or last.

Know Your Customer

It makes you wonder: Why, when suspicious-looking individuals are spotted among the well-heeled clientele at spiffy restaurants, don’t the staff do something about it? While it may be prejudicial, if not unconstitutional, to point them out to other customers-or to give them the bum’s rush before they commit a crime-the least the waiters can do is to keep an eye on them and be ready pounce if they do cross the line.

That sentiment may well have been shared by one customer who visited La Goulue, at 746 Madison Avenue, at around 5 p.m. on Sept. 5. The diner remembers placing her pocketbook on the floor by her feet while she enjoyed her meal. However, when it came time to pay and the victim, a 31-year-old East 64th Street resident, went to retrieve it, the purse had vanished.

Ah, yes! a female witness said to her. She had noticed a suspicious woman. (Indeed, she was able to provide the police with an admirable description.) The witness identified the villain as a 50-year-old female with short curly hair, brown pants and a flowered jacket. She might now want to add to that description her victim’s $450 brown suede Gucci bag, a $350 black leather Prada wallet, $500 in cash, and a Minnesota driver’s license.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at rgard135@aol.com.

Crime Blotter