Crime Blotter

Checks and Balances:

Bank Manager Nets Crook

The cops have put the blame for a recent rash of bank robberies not just on the crooks themselves, but also on the banks they plundered for their lackadaisical attitude toward security. Perhaps taking that criticism to heart, the bank manager at the Commerce Bank’s Second Avenue and 90th Street branch was largely responsible for apprehending a crook who tried to rob his place of business on May 4.

The perp showed up shortly after noon and handed the teller a note informing her that he had a gun and that he’d prefer large bills. Acquiescing to his wishes, the teller handed him $2,620, which the thief pocketed before fleeing northbound on Second Avenue.

The teller set off an alarm that resulted in the 19th Precinct activating its bank-robber-apprehension plan at 12:09 p.m. The plan-which may not be as impressive as it sounds, judging from the number of bank robbers it’s netted-calls for all available units to respond to the vicinity of the crime scene and alerts any nearby subway stations to trap the fleeing criminal.

However, in this incident, the police were assisted by something even more valuable than a plan: the 36-year-old Commerce Bank branch manager, who took it upon himself to pursue the perp, and who pointed him out to the cops when they joined the chase. He was eventually apprehended on 78th Street between First and Second avenues.

The bank teller whom the bandit intimidated into forking over the currency was then taken to the location, where she got a modicum of justice by positively identifying him in a “show-up.” The thief, a 49-year-old homeless man, was charged with robbery.

Garden-Variety Job

A leaky roof, apparently, is the least of your problems when you live in a penthouse, as a Fifth Avenue and 74th Street resident discovered on April 16. The victim told the police that when she left her duplex apartment for the weekend, she’d neglected to lock the terrace door-not appreciating that her landscapers might pose something of a security risk.

The gardeners who visited in her absence had access to the terrace, where they were apparently employed in spring planting and pruning. However, their activities weren’t supposed to take them indoors. Judging from the discovery she made upon her return home, that’s what they may have done. The victim told the police that things were missing-and she didn’t mean her pruning sheers, either.

Rather, the unknown perps had made off with around $2,000 worth of jewelry from her bedroom drawer-located, perhaps prophetically, next to the terrace door. The missing items included two gold wedding bands valued at $800 for the pair, a $1,000 Cartier watch and a $10 pair of zircon earrings. Though the housekeeper was in the apartment over the weekend, she told her boss that she didn’t see anything. There were no signs of forced entry.

Occupational Hazard

Anyone who’s ever visited a magazine office knows that, no matter how staid the rest of the publication, the fashion and accessories departments usually look like they’ve been hit by a bomb.

Perhaps being inured to that kind of chaos is what prevented a magazine’s jewelry editor from noticing something odd at her East 74th Street apartment on April 12. Upon her return home at 10:30 that night, she discovered that numerous jewelry boxes were open on the top of her dresser-but, according to the police report, “she did not pay any attention” to the state of the jewelry boxes.

However, when the complainant was putting those same boxes away a couple of nights later, she came to a rather astonishing realization-the boxes were all empty. The victim, a 28-year-old woman, informed the police officers who responded to the scene that most of the items were gifts-a.k.a., swag-from the companies she does business with (which perhaps explains why jewelry-editor positions don’t stay vacant for long).

The victim placed the value of the missing items at $112,000, including $18,000 for a charm bracelet, $10,000 for a diamond ring and $8,000 for diamond studs. Those with keys to the apartment included the landlord and the cleaning lady. And while a canvass of the area produced nothing, the police did manage to lift nine usable fingerprints from the apartment’s surfaces.

Ralph Gardner Jr. can be contacted at e-mail

Crime Blotter