Crime Blotter

Paintball Pinhead Tries

Target Practice at Mayor’s Mansion

Paintball has become an increasingly popular sport. Nevertheless, as one Upper East Side resident discovered on Feb. 28, it is probably unwise to conduct your target practice near what the police euphemistically describe as “sensitive locations”-such as Gracie Mansion-particularly in this jittery era.

At around 4:55 p.m., the police received a call reporting a man with a gun in the vicinity of the Mayor’s official residence at 88th Street and East End Avenue. Shortly thereafter, a police officer assigned to the mansion’s security booth spotted a suspect fitting the description, a middle-aged male carrying a black bag. He observed that the bag was open and what appeared to be a firearm was sticking out of it.

The officer made an arrest, and the fellow-a 56-year-old East 86th Street resident-was transported to the 19th Precinct for questioning.

“I was here when his ass was dragged in,” reported a police officer. “He was practicing outside. It was a beautiful gun.”

The suspect was also carrying some sort of black mat that he employed as a paintball target. “But you cannot use that here,” the officer cautioned. “Not in a public park.” And particularly not in a public park that borders the Mayor’s official residence-even if the current Mayor happens to be a billionaire who prefers to live in his sumptuous 79th Street townhouse instead.

A police check revealed that the suspect had no outstanding warrants, and so “he was summonsed and cut loose,” the police officer said.

Bumbling Bandits

Like anything else, becoming an expert shoplifter requires hard work and dedication. Apparently, the trio of female bandits that visited Pier 1, at 1550 Third Avenue, on March 5 just weren’t willing to put in the time and effort to become proficient at their chosen calling.

Shortly after the three women entered the tchotchke emporium around 7 p.m., two of them moved to the rear of the store. The third one might have considered creating a distraction-which is standard operating procedure for shoplifting teams-for example, by blocking a sales associate’s or security guard’s view while her colleagues helped themselves to the merchandise.

However, this suspect instead decided to sit down in a chair and give her feet a rest while her sisters-in-crime selected festive candles from a display and slipped them into their jackets. Not surprisingly, a Pier 1 employee saw them and intercepted them as they prepared to depart. In the ensuing chaos, one of the crooks dropped her jacket (and the candles she’d hidden inside it), and all three fled in a vehicle northbound on Third Avenue.

As if that wasn’t bumbling enough behavior, an hour later a friend of one of the perps-who was not a member of the original raiding party-dropped by the store and asked if she could have her pal’s garment back. Apparently, one of the staff actually gave it to her.

A police source said there’s no way you could detain the buddy of a shoplifter who wasn’t involved in the crime. But there’s also no law that says you have to return the shoplifter’s property. “I wouldn’t have given any of that stuff back,” explained the cop. “Most likely there was some form of ID in the jacket that could be traced back to who she is.”

Nevertheless, the cop wasn’t altogether surprised by the unfortunate turn of events.

“These guys never catch anybody,” the officer said, meaning that Pier 1’s employees rarely even get a glimpse of their shoplifters. “So those guys,” she continued, referring now to the gang of three, “must have been horrible.”

The Full Treatment

This past Christmas, the Crime Blotter treated his wife to a one-hour massage at the spa and health club at the new Time Warner Center’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. While the price was absurd, at least it included free use of the spa’s spectacular 36th-floor swimming pool (an offer that has probably expired since then, though if any of Crime Blotter’s readers are interested, they may want to double-check).

It seems a Long Island man wanted to do something similarly thoughtful for his girlfriend on Feb. 5, at the Dormer Lourence Medical Spa at 22 East 72nd Street. The main difference between the two gestures, however, was that Crime Blotter’s credit card didn’t buckle (though it did bend) under the purchase price of the gift. The other fellow’s check, however, bounced out the door and clear across 72nd Street.

After the girlfriend had received her treatments (which were not specified by the police) and the spa-which specializes in laser hair and vein removal-became aware of the payment problem, they called and alerted the gift-giver to the unpleasant situation in which all concerned now found themselves involved. The man promised to send another check promptly.

It never arrived. Indeed, it turns out that this wasn’t even the first time the suspect had taken advantage of the company: Dormer Medical informed the police that the suspect had made use of the spa’s services on one other occasion (whether for himself, his girlfriend or another girlfriend entirely, the cops didn’t reveal). He had promised to pay by check then, too, but never did, leaving him currently in the hole to the facility for a total of $1,350. The spa provided the police with the perp’s phone number and e-mail address, and the investigation continues.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at Crime Blotter