Crime Blotter

Marauding Miscreants’ Motto:

‘Bring Us Your Weak’

While the spectacle of the police catching crooks is one that generally warms the cockles of the public’s heart, there’s something especially edifying about locking up bullies who prey on weaker, smaller kids. A case in point happened on March 4 at 2:50 p.m., when a group of four teenage males-a 17-year-old, a 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds-surrounded a 13-year-old Hunter High School student in front of 1199 Park Avenue.

One of the perps got the victim in a choke hold, threw him to the ground and stated, “Give me your cell,” while his accomplice rifled through the kid’s pockets, taking the phone. Meanwhile, the other two teenagers served as lookouts.

Apparently, though, all their efforts were for naught, because shortly after the incident, all four were arrested by 19th Precinct anti-crime cops. The officers, Neil Hicks and Paul Dondorfer, hearing a report over their police radio that a youth had been robbed at 95th and Park Avenue, decided to head uptown “on a hunch,” according to Officer Hicks.

The hunch was prompted by the fact that the four perps described in the 911 call fit the description of suspects who were involved in a similar incident that had occurred approximately 24 hours earlier. “The day before, these kids also robbed another [student] from the same school,” Officer Hicks explained.

As the officers were rushing to the scene, they saw the thieves running eastbound on 95th Street and then southbound on Third Avenue. “So we jumped out of the car and stopped them and did a show-up,” said Officer Hicks.

What made the arrest particularly satisfying-what the cops call a “good collar”-was that one of the perps was carrying the iPod that he’d stolen from the previous day’s victim. All four were charged with robbery, with the two younger crooks departing for juvenile court while the elders were sent to criminal court.

Bank Holiday

Crime continues its impressive descent in this fair city. However, one category that defies the NYPD’s best intentions, as anyone who follows the news knows, is bank robbery. Indeed, Feb. 24 marked something of a banner day for those in the bank-robbing business, with four separate attempts on the Upper East Side occurring in something less than a two-hour period.

The first incident occurred at 10:50 a.m., when a middle-aged male in a tan jacket entered the Chase Manhattan bank at 255 East 86th Street and handed the teller a note. The note failed to impress the teller-perhaps because bank robberies have become so routine-and she handed it back.

The perp, falling back on his people skills, then stated, “Give me some money now.” When even that failed to win over the stubborn bank worker, the suspect fled northbound. The police conducted three separate show-ups, all with negative results.

Perhaps where the cops should have gone was the HSBC bank at 45 East 89th Street. Approximately one hour after the attempted Chase hold-up, a suspect fitting the same description-a 6-foot, 190-pound male-passed a teller at that bank a note which stated: “Please. I am in dire straits. I have cancer. And not much more to lose. Please give me a decent amount of $. I and my accomplice won’t harm you. Don’t get stupid.”

While the teller may have sympathized with her assailant’s medical condition (if not the way he paid for his prescriptions), she too apparently failed to turn over any loot, and the crook fled in an unknown direction.

Two other bank robberies occurred that day, within minutes of one another. At the Citibank at 757 Madison Avenue at 12:10 p.m., a male entered the bank, proceeded to a teller window and said, “Put all the money in the slot and no one will get hurt.” This teller, alas, refused to meet his request (perhaps banks would have no need for the cops if all their tellers were this tough), and the thief fled northbound on Madison Avenue.

Common sense suggests that one should leave the area immediately after pulling a bank robbery, successful or not. But this crook apparently decided to consult a higher being and was apprehended at 1:15 p.m. inside the St. James Episcopal Church at 865 Madison Avenue.

Police Officer Sal Ariano of the 19th Precinct anti-crime unit returned with the perp to Citibank, where the teller positively identified him. The individual, a 52-year-old 555 West 55th Street resident, was placed under arrest and charged with robbery in the first degree.

The final bank robbery of the day occurred at 12:15 p.m. at the Chase Manhattan bank at 1025 Madison Avenue, when a suspect approached a teller and, dispensing with formality, stated, “Give me the money.” For good measure, he simulated a firearm by sticking his hand into his jacket pocket. When the teller didn’t immediately hand over the money, the suspect grew anxious and fled in an unknown direction. The cops canvassed the area, but with negative results.

It would be easy enough to attribute the ongoing bank-robbery epidemic to joblessness-but then why aren’t muggings and grand-larceny auto also going through the roof?

The answer, according to the police, is that crooks have discovered that the banks’ attitude toward their capture is laissez-faire at best. “There’s this jackass who told us his policy is not to call 911,” explained one cop, referring to a particular bank officer. The cop added that standard procedure for banks when a robbery occurs is for the teller to hit an alarm that alerts the bank manager rather than the police. “The bank manager notifies somebody else in another state,” the frustrated officer explained. “One of the keys to crime reduction is accurate and timely intelligence.” But as things stand at some banks, she pointed out, “You go in, give them a note and mosey down the street. You can be in Staten Island before they call 911.”

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

Crime Blotter