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Cops Stage Intervention

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During Crook-aholic’s Spree

If you’re a thief, it’s humiliating enough to get caught in the first place. But to be arrested three times in two weeks, as one suspect was recently, ought to be enough to send any self-respecting crook into therapy.

“That guy was arrested an inordinate number of times,” explained Deputy Inspector James Rogers, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer.

The most recent incident occurred on Nov. 10, after a 39-year-old woman returned to her East 69th Street apartment only to discover the burglar leaving with over $50,000 worth of her jewelry under his arm, including a $13,000 Bulgari watch, three Cartier rings worth $15,000, $9,000 and $8,000 respectively, and a $4,500 Van Cleef watch.

The woman asked the crook how he got into her apartment-and when he apparently failed to come up with a suitable answer, started to follow him up the street, since she didn’t recognize him as a friend or family member. That’s when he dropped a box containing some of her valuables, persuading her not to give chase, and fled in an unknown direction.

A canvass of the area yielded negative results, but the woman had gotten a good enough look at the burglar during their encounter that she was able to positively identify him from a photo array at the 19th Precinct station house.

Once she did, the cops recognized the crook too; they’d arrested him twice in the preceding week-once on Halloween, while he was in the act of committing a burglary in the East 80’s, and once the previous Monday, Oct. 27, for “blocking pedestrian flow.” (“He was arrested for sleeping on the sidewalk,” Deputy Inspector Rogers said, translating the penal code into plain English.)

After the perp’s East 69th Street victim spotted him in the photo array, the cops knew just where to go to re-arrest him. He’d apparently been released after his Halloween arrest due to the kindness of the city’s judiciary. “After he was arrested in the act of committing a burglary, he went right back to his old tricks,” Inspector Rogers stated.

“Officer Hicks found him uptown on the street,” the inspector added, referring to Police Officer Neil Hicks, a member of the 19th Precinct anti-crime unit. “He’s been arrested eight times in this precinct for burglary since 1993.”

If At First You

Do Succeed

November was a good month, it turns out, for locking up repeat offenders. Around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, the cops got a call about a suspect breaking into cars on 86th Street and First Avenue.

“Sal and I roll down the street,” recalled Police Officer Paul Dondorfer of the 19th Precinct anti-crime unit, referring to his colleague, Officer Sal Catapano, “and saw a guy fitting the description-a male with a blue hat, blue jacket and beige pants. We came up on him so quick, he was startled that we caught him,” Officer Dondorfer continued. “The guy is responsible for breaking into over 20 cars in the 19th Precinct.”

In one typical case, committed just the day before, a First Avenue resident returned to his car in the morning-having parked it shortly before midnight the night before-and discovered his driver’s side rear window shattered and his black Swiss Army knife stolen. The suspect had also tried to cut the steering wheel to remove the anti-car-theft device known as the Club and steal the car, but had failed in his efforts and therefore had to make due with the portable cutlery.

When he was arrested by Officers Dondorfer and Catapano, the perp had a knife on him-apparently the Swiss Army knife-as well as CD’s and sunglasses stolen from the cars of other victims. “He’ll either break the glass from the car or he’ll try to pry the window down,” Officer Dondorfer said. “He’d steal whatever he could steal. He’d try to steal the car if he could, but he wasn’t that smart.”

And why would the suspect, a 33-year-old East 85th Street resident, confess to having committed over 20 crimes? “He’s a drug addict,” the cop said. “He doesn’t care. He has 22 prior arrests. He’s not afraid of the system-which is a shame.”

Severance Bonus

Some of us are under the misguided impression that those in our domestic employ-housekeepers, butlers, baby-sitters-are our friends. That is, until they quit without warning, occasionally without even leaving behind the house keys or a goodbye note.

Even worse is when they steal valuables on the way out, making you wonder what the relationship was all about in the first place. Such appears to be the case with one Park Avenue and 80th Street matron who suddenly found herself without the services of her housekeeper on Nov. 30. Not only that, but the perp had helped herself to $180 in cash before departing.

And this after her boss-who divides her time between Park Avenue and Hong Kong-applied for what she described to the police as a “non-immigrant visa” for her servant. To be fair, the domestic did leave the key to her employer’s Hong Kong residence behind, as well as a note which, under different circumstances, might be construed as good news. “I’m getting married,” the note said.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

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