Crime Blotter

Juvenile Joyride:

Soho Babies Cab It Alone

Taxicabs have been known to leave in a hurry with their passengers’ possessions-things like umbrellas and shopping bags- carelessly left behind in the back seat. But rare is the cab that takes off with the fare’s kids still buckled in, as one taxi did on the morning of Nov. 7 at 60th Street and Madison Avenue.

Once the cab had reached its destination, the mother of the two children-one a toddler, the other an infant-got out to retrieve her kids’ stroller from the trunk. She closed the passenger door to prevent the children from exiting themselves (the younger one was in a child-safety seat, the older one was buckled in), got the stroller and then slammed the trunk shut.

The sound of the closing trunk apparently had some sort of Pavlovian effect on the cabby; as soon as he heard it, he sped off westbound towards Fifth Avenue, with the two children still in the back. The mother, a 34-year-old Mercer Street resident, ran after the cab but couldn’t keep up with it.

Fortunately, she encountered two police officers at the corner of Fifth Avenue, who immediately transmitted the cab’s and the children’s description over all Manhattan and citywide police frequencies. Even more astutely, they suggested that the woman return with them to the location where the cab had dropped her off in order to await its return.

Sure enough, the vehicle came into view approximately 10 minutes later, her children still safe inside. No charges were filed against the driver.

Astronomical Atrocity

The members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York were in for a surprise on Nov. 8-and it wasn’t the brilliant star fields that emerged around the full moon when it went into total eclipse around 8 p.m.

Indeed, their viewing of the celestial event was somewhat obscured-not by clouds, street light or any of the other normal culprits-but due to a thief (or thieves) who ripped off a veritable Mount Palomar’s worth of sky-gazing equipment from the Park Avenue Christian Church, at 1010 Park Avenue, where the astronomy group has its meetings.

According to the police, an observation group had gathered at the church around 4:30 p.m., deposited their equipment-which included several high-powered telescopes, expensive binoculars, tripods, lenses, cameras and hand trucks-and then went out to dinner in anticipation of the night’s lunar light show.

However, when they returned from their meal, they found all their property-valued at over $15,000- missing. There were no signs of forced entry through the office door or window, and a questioning of church members and employees revealed that no one had seen or heard anything. According to one source, the key that opens the astronomy association’s door also opens the doors to all of the church’s other offices.

“Somebody had to know they were going to go and have dinner and come back,” said a member of the association, who added that the group meets at the church twice a month. “I imagine they had a van waiting.”

The tragedy didn’t prevent the troupe from eventually making its way to Turtle Pond in Central Park, where they hooked up with a couple hundred other star-gazers, among them members of their own association who were lucky enough to have come straight from home rather than stopping by the church first, and thus were still in possession of their telescopes.

“We did continue to see the eclipse as a group,” a member reported.

The case remains under investigation by the 19th Precinct detective squad.

Vanishing Valises

Travelers typically think that their odysseys-what with metal detectors, strip searches, shoe shakedowns and, in the case of an unlucky few, threatened deportations to Gitmo, it’s fair to call them “odysseys”-are over once they reach their Manhattan hotel, especially if it’s a high-end hotel such as the Regency at 540 Park Avenue.

Think again: A visitor from Mexico was trying to check into the hotel at 4:05 p.m. on Nov. 11 when somebody-and not a pro-active porter-picked up his valise. However, the Regency, a home away from home for visiting high-rollers and heads of state, also has substantial security, and one of the hotel’s operatives noticed the black suitcase heading out the door under the guidance of an individual who wasn’t, well, Regency material.

The man, a 32-year-old Queens resident wearing a tan overcoat and tan dress shoes (and with a tattoo on his arm depicting a wolf), was apprehended and charged with petty larceny.

Price Slasher

The holiday shopping season got off to a rather violent start at Bloomingdale’s on Nov. 14 when a middle-aged woman, apprehended by store detectives after she was spotted trying to steal miscellaneous articles of clothing valued at $1,010, tried to settle the misunderstanding by pulling out a pair of wire-cutters and stabbing her accusers.

The incident occurred at 5:03 p.m., when the woman in question was intercepted as she headed for the front door, having neglected to pay for her selections. When the store dicks brought the oversight to her attention, she produced the aforementioned hardware and attempted to slash one of them. She also struggled with the department store staff when they tried to retrieve the stolen property from her purse. She was eventually subdued, arrested and charged with robbery.

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

Crime Blotter