Crime Blotter

Phony Patient Gives Docs

Big Pain in the Neck

If you want to burglarize a doctor’s office and wouldn’t mind picking up a bit of sympathy along the way-if not a blood test and full checkup-what better prop to use than the old neck brace?

The ruse worked like a charm for one perp who visited an East 79th Street physician on Dec. 12 at around 4 p.m., wearing the aforementioned neck stabilizer.

“Where is your male bathroom?” he inquired of an employee at the busy M.D.’s office. He was apparently pointed in the right direction but, once his business was done, took advantage of the distracted staff by popping into one of the offices and removing $520 in cash-five $100 bills and four fives.

Then, though he hadn’t yet had his injured neck examined (this doctor was a dermatologist, in any case, so he probably couldn’t have helped much), the perp departed and slipped into the passenger seat of a maroon Pontiac that was waiting outside.

As it turned out, the man’s injuries weren’t all that life-threatening. When one of the employees, discovering the theft, chased after him, the perp-described as a 5-foot-6, 160-pound male-removed the neck brace and waved before fleeing the scene.

Over-the-Counter Heist

On another quasi-medical note, a couple of possibly diabetic crooks visited the Duane Reade drugstore at 1498 York Avenue on Dec. 8. While one of them distracted an employee in the pharmacy area by asking for help finding various products, his accomplice stole almost $1,000 worth of over-the-counter (in more ways than one) diabetic test strips from behind the desk.

A cop suspects it was less a case of low blood sugar than petty thievery. “Apparently, they can resell all that medication,” she said. But who would buy test strips off a couple of suspicious-looking characters on the street? “I think they go to other pharmacies because they steal a lot of stuff like that,” the cop explained.

The crime was caught on the store’s security video, and the crooks were observed by the manager at the counter before they fled in an unknown direction. Their haul included three Accu-Check Advantage strips valued at $79 each; three Accu-Check Comfort strips worth $78.99 apiece; and a box of Touch Test Strips worth $156.

Bad Week in Medicine

On a third and final medically related note, on Dec. 12 a worker at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the world-famous cancer hospital, spotted a stranger in the hallway of a restricted area and asked him what he was doing there.

“Looking for someone,” the man replied.

The answer, vague though it was, was enough to satisfy his interrogator (security, unfortunately, leaves something to be desired at N.Y.C. hospitals), who walked away. But the employee’s suspicion was once again aroused moments later when he spotted the male, described as 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, enter an office and remove something from a desk.

The hospital worker approached the stranger a second time, at which point he attempted to make an exit, hiding something under his jacket. An altercation ensued, which resulted in the stranger landing several punches on the worker’s face, causing substantial pain and swelling to his jaw.

During the struggle, the perp dropped what he was hiding under his jacket-a black knapsack-and fled down a staircase with the victim, a 28-year-old Manhattan resident, in hot pursuit. The two tangled one more time, with the Sloan-Kettering worker trying to hold the thief until hospital security arrived.

Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful, and the crook fled in an unknown direction.

Cable Gals

Does it sometimes feel like you’re paying your cable-TV provider a lot more than you used to only a few years ago even though your service hasn’t improved (if anything, it’s deteriorated) and the rate of inflation has remained negligible? Do you sometimes get the impression that Time Warner has friends in high places?

These questions occurred to this reporter not only as he perused his latest cable bill, but also when he was apprised of a crime report involving a couple of thieves who, on Dec. 3, had money automatically withdrawn from an East End Avenue resident’s Washington Mutual bank account without her knowledge.

Usually, when such crimes occur, the crooks steal thousands. But in this case, the perps seemed content to cover only their cable bill. The crooks, who were apparently sisters (judging by their shared last name and the fact that they live at the same Bronx address), used the withdrawal to pay their cable provider directly-$50.56 in one woman’s case, $75.30 in the other.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

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