Crime Blotter

Road Rager Threatens Cop With Spit, Fake P.B.A. Placard

For a probationary police officer, one of life’s little pleasures has to be the first time he’s allowed to exercise the majesty of his office against an obnoxious crook. Such was the case on June 5, when a probationary cop by the name of Elbi Caminero made the acquaintance of an excitable fellow motorist on the way to his shift at the 19th Precinct station house at 11:30 a.m.

Officer Caminero had just come off the Queensboro Bridge and was stopped at a red light at 60th Street and Third Avenue when a limo pulled up to his left. When the light changed, the limo driver allegedly cut in front of him to make a right turn. The officer beeped his horn, then made a right turn himself.

The limo driver, a fellow by the name of Sanchez, pulled in front of the officer to indicate his unhappiness, causing Officer Caminero to stop abruptly. The errant driver then leaned across the passenger seat of his car and released a wad of spit; the gift landed on the officer’s arm.

One might think the incident would have ended there, the suspect’s ire spent. But evidently he was just getting started: The driver regaled Officer Caminero with insults-after which, producing a laminated P.B.A. placard, the driver stated that he was a police officer himself, trying to intimidate the real cop with the threat of arrest.

Fully engulfed now in road rage, the suspect got out of his car and started banging on the driver’s-side window of his opponent’s car and threatening the officer with bodily harm. Rather than rise to the challenge, the probationary cop prudently called 911 and identified himself as an unarmed member of the NYPD in need of assistance. He also maneuvered his car around the limo and continued northbound on Third Avenue.

However, as he approached 62nd Street, the limo again overtook him and pulled in front of him; the verbal assault continued, and the cop called 911 a second time. When the perp departed this time, Officer Caminero followed him at a safe distance-i.e., outside spitting range-westbound on 63rd Street. He observed him go through two red lights, the first on Lexington Avenue and the second on Fifth Avenue, before making a left turn onto Fifth. NYPD reinforcements finally came to the rescue at 53rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues: Officers pulled the limo over and asked the perp how the P.B.A. placard came into his possession. The suspect allegedly offered a variety of explanations, the first being that it belonged to his half brother, killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

When that story fell apart, however, the limo driver said the placard belonged to his cousin, a cop in either the 102nd or the 105th Precinct. However, the story changed yet again when officers from Patrol Borough Manhattan North debriefed him. The suspect said his own dad, Pedro Sanchez Sr., had given him the plaque, and he thought his dad had gotten it from a cop in the 107th Precinct. Eager now to be helpful, he added that he believed the placard had been copied and laminated at Kinko’s. He further stated that he specifically used it to avoid traffic infractions.

Further investigation revealed that the suspect had himself been a probationary police officer between June 1992 and June 1993. He had no prior criminal history. Nonetheless, he was arrested for impersonating a police officer. The placard, as it turned out, had been assigned to a police officer in the 102nd Precinct.

Apartment Search

Part of the secret of finding your dream apartment in Manhattan (if you’re not possessed of generational wealth) is finding the right broker. Conversely, the wrong one can really put a dent in your wallet, as one unlucky soul discovered on May 29. The victim, a 25-year-old West 63rd Street resident, told the police that he’d met his agent-or someone masquerading as a real-estate agent-on two different occasions at 111 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village.

The agent solicited $1,900 from him, as well as pay-check stubs and personal information, saying that he needed them for a background check. However, when the client apparently didn’t hear back from the fellow, he decided to do a background check of his own, calling the number on the business card the broker gave him. But the company on the card said they had no employees by that name. The victim told the police that he found the fake real-estate agent on the Craigslist Web site.

Maid Service

A Park Avenue and 74th Street resident recently filed a complaint at the 19th Precinct stating that between November 2003 and April of this year, her housekeeper unlocked her safe, stole her jewelry and hawked it at a pawn shop. She knew this because the maid admitted to the crime.

The items taken from the safe included an 18-karat gold necklace with a diamond arrow, valued at $5,000; a $5,000 gold chain with a sapphire; and a $3,000 pair of gold earrings.

However, the 65-year-old maid has promised to get the jewelry from the pawn shop by the first week of July. The victim is now waiting to see whether this happens before deciding to press charges.

Ralph Gardner can be reached at

Crime Blotter