Crime Blotter

Crazed Crook Attempts To

Bite Bauble Off Victim’s Hand

It’s every woman’s worst nightmare. Well, maybe not every woman, just those who can afford traffic-stopping jewelry. They’re walking down the street, feeling good and looking great, when some scumbag (excuse our English, but the perp in this incident warrants the description) runs up, snatches their favorite 15-carat Graff diamond ring or teardrop earrings and flees into the night.

That’s what happened to one 59-year-old East 69th Street resident on Feb. 6. Only the crime was far uglier. The victim was followed through the doorway of her apartment building, located between Lexington and Third avenues, at 10:15 a.m. by a thief who’d apparently caught sight of her ring, which was described by Officer Paul Dondorfer (a talented policeman, though admittedly no gemologist) as “a big, big diamond.”

The perp attempted to gain possession of the bauble, though he didn’t do so by asking politely. Officer Dondorfer, who responded to the scene, described the incident: The doorman and the maintenance man, who heard the victim screaming, “run in back and see her struggling with a male. He’s trying to bite the ring off her finger. He tried with a screwdriver; after that didn’t work, he bit her. [The two men] fight with the guy, knock him down. He knocks all the plants over. It’s a big melee.”

During the scuffle, someone apparently called 911. Enter Officer Dondorfer and his partner, Police Officer Neal Ariano, who wasted no time in arresting the suspect. “He has a long rap sheet for robbery and burglary,” Officer Dondorfer said. “He got out of jail in 2001.”

The suspect, who was found in possession of a pair of pliers and the screwdriver, was charged with robbery. His victim was removed to the hospital for treatment of marks to her right hand and for a tetanus injection.

Dye-Hard Criminal

Bank robbers, as a rule, aren’t that brilliant. But they are teachable, as a Feb. 9 incident at the HSBC bank, at 186 East 86th Street, suggests. The suspect, described as a 30-year-old male with steel-framed prescription glasses, visited the bank at around 10 a.m. He approached a teller and, exhibiting the lack of breeding common to his class, barked: “Give me all your money, and hurry up!” He also simulated (but never actually displayed) a weapon.

The perp was handed a wad of cash, which included what was described as “bait money.” That’s one of those dye packs that explodes shortly after the suspect departs, dousing him in bright red powder and making him more easily recognizable to his pursuers in law enforcement.

But this guy was too shrewd for that. He fled with approximately $1,100, but only after insisting that the teller remove the bait money. The incident triggered a “Level One mobilization” by the police and a grid search of the area, all to no avail. A bank video recorded the crime, and the NYPD’s major-case squad responded to the scene.



While one can become the victim of crime anywhere in the big city, the 19th Precinct just released a list of locations where you’re even more likely to get your pocket picked or your purse stolen. The big winner seems to be the Madison Avenue bus line which, for 2003, reported a total of 49 grand larcenies, meaning theft of unattended property or pickpocketing. The bus line was followed by the East 86th Street subway station and Hunter College, at 68th Street and Lexington Avenue.

Other hot spots included Barnes and Noble, which reported 16 grand larcenies at their 240 East 86th Street and 87th Street and Lexington Avenue locations; the Food Emporium at 68th Street and Third Avenue, with 10 incidents; Citarella at 1313 Third Avenue, also with 10 incidents; and the New York Sports Club, which reported 39 grand larcenies among their three Upper East Side locations.

In an effort to stanch the crimes, Police Officer Maria Alaya, with assistance from fellow cops, recently visited the trouble spots and handed out warning fliers to pedestrians. Their gist: Don’t ever leave your property unattended, even if that means stuffing your Patek Philippe watch into your gym shorts when you start your workout.

Officer Ayala said that the effort is already starting to pay off. “Grand larcenies went from 61 to 23 that week,” she reported.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

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