Crime Blotter

Perp Pulls Off Crime,

But Then Pushes Luck

The first rule to a successful life in crime is resisting the temptation to press your luck, as one overreaching perp did on April 27. On that date, the suspect visited Champagne Video, at 81st Street and First Avenue, at around 8 p.m. and absconded with $244.33 worth of DVD’s.

But instead of calling it a night, he hailed a cab and told the driver to take him to 1676 First Avenue. When they arrived at their destination, the suspect displayed a knife and stated that he had no intention of paying the fare, even though the cost of the trip was a not-insurmountable $2.80. And if that wasn’t nervy enough, he ordered the cabby to wait while he completed his business in the building.

Instead, the alienated driver called 911, prompting the arrival of a police officer, who spotted the suspect in the building’s lobby. He waited outside and apprehended him at 88th Street and First Avenue. A show-up was conducted, and a victim-apparently a Champagne Video employee, not the cabby-positively identified him.

(Mini) Bar Service

Ever get the feeling when you stick a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel door that the housekeeping staff doesn’t think it applies to them-especially if it means they’ll be late for their coffee break? A guest at the Regency hotel, at 540 Park Avenue, seems to have come up with proof of that inhospitable attitude.

On March 25 (though the crime wasn’t reported until April 25), the victim placed a “Do Not Disturb” sign on her room door and departed for a shopping excursion at around 11 a.m. However, the staff apparently thought she wasn’t serious, because when she returned to the room, she noticed that the mini-bar’s wire seal was closed and intact. The victim, a 67-year-old East Hampton resident, recalled that prior to leaving on her shopping trip, she’d cut the wire off the bar to purchase some items-suggesting that someone had entered her rooms while she was gone, ignoring the “Do Not Disturb” sign, to restock the fridge.

Such zealousness might have been excused if the woman’s $4,700 Cartier tank watch hadn’t been missing. The victim concluded that whichever member of the hotel staff had entered the room against her wishes quite possibly might have helped himself (or herself) to the timepiece. The thief, if caught, will be charged with grand larceny.

Reading Signs

The fortuneteller’s sign (“Reading $5-Palm and Tarot Cards”), parked in the hallway of the 19th Precinct on May 3, wasn’t meant to suggest that the cops had started consulting crystal balls to solve crimes. Rather, the sign had been removed from an East 74th Street corner where it had been illegally attached to a lamppost to advertise the clairvoyant powers of a local mind-reader.

What with the death spiral the planet appears to be in at the moment, you’d think people would have better things to do than complain about fortunetellers’ promotional material blocking the sidewalk. But the cops were holding the sign in protective custody in response to frequent complaints from a local resident who attends the monthly precinct community-council meetings.

“This has been going on at every meeting,” said a police officer of the complaints. “[The sign] has been the resident’s pet peeve for quite some time. We said, ‘We’ll take care of it.'”

Following the resident’s complaints, the cops would contact the fortuneteller, who would promise in turn to remove the offending advertisement, but apparently never did. And then, at the next community-council meeting, the guy would complain again.

“We warned him to remove it,” a police officer said of the fortuneteller.

Realizing that decisive action was called for, the police, at the direction of Inspector James Rogers, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer, removed the sign themselves on May 3, just in time for the monthly council meeting. The operation apparently required some delicacy, however.

“We had to sneak up on him,” a police officer joked of the fortuneteller. “He can predict when we’re coming.”

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be reached at

Crime Blotter