With gray skies, rain and temperatures hovering in the 50’s, you’d be excused for thinking it was November rather than the height of spring. But a sure sign that the season was a-bud: The pickup of wealthy women’s furs, moving from cedar closets to summer storage, continued unabated, as was the case on April 26.
Unfortunately, 60 fur garments never made it to storage that day, because at 1 p.m. the van carrying the pelts was hijacked by thieves in front of 70 East End Avenue. While the driver of the van was sitting outside the building, waiting for a couple of co-workers who were inside picking up more furs, he was approached by one male on the passenger side of his vehicle and another on the driver’s side. Ordering the driver to “Get in the middle!”-and brandishing a silver semi-automatic handgun for emphasis-the two men sandwiched him inside.
With one of the crooks now behind the wheel, the van headed northbound on First Avenue, while the two men ordered their prisoner to remove his clothes. Rather than swaddling him in any one of the many available minks or sables lest he feel chilled, they made him lie down on the floor of the van, apparently naked or close enough, perhaps hoping his inherent modesty would prevent him from fleeing in search of help.
The thieves stopped at 105th Street and First Avenue, where their victim-a 20-year-old Bronx resident, still prone-heard unloading sounds. That would undoubtedly have been the sound of 60 assorted furs going bye-bye. A short time later he heard nothing at all, suggesting that his kidnappers were gone.
The police became aware of the incident when the driver’s colleagues emerged from the building where they were making their pickup and discovered both the van and their co-worker missing. Thinking that curious, they called the cops, who transmitted a description of the van citywide and discovered it a short time later at the aforementioned location. An evidence-collection team was dispatched to search the van for clues.
One business that doesn’t discriminate against the handicapped is bank robbing. On May 12, a suspect with a noticeably bum eye visited the Commerce Bank at 1091 Third Avenue and informed a teller, “I just got fired.”
Maybe he was hoping to trigger her sympathy by suggesting that his deformity was cause for his dismissal. But then he handed her a note that stated: “I have a gun. Give me all the money.”
It’s unlikely, if the fellow actually had been fired, that it “just” happened recently, as a suspect fitting the same description is believed to be responsible for several other bank robberies (known as “Pattern F” in the major-case squad), including one on April 12 at a Commerce Bank location at 1350 Avenue of the Americas.
The cops generally disappoint when it comes to descriptions, forsaking poetry for hard prose. However, the wanted poster for the suspect goes on a while about his bad eye. The poster describes it as “deformed, droopy, cloudy, and blue in color.”
The police believe that it’s the same perp because in the May 12 incident, the teller-who gave the bandit an undetermined amount of money-described his eye as either deformed or a glass eye. A canvass of the area by the NYPD-even armed with that vivid description-nonetheless failed to locate the crook.
Off-duty Police Officer Neil Ariano was heading southbound on Fifth Avenue in his car around 2:45 a.m. on May 20 when something caught his eye at 1130 Fifth Avenue as he was stopped for a red light. It wasn’t the understated Federal-style architecture of the Delano and Aldrich mansion, the former International Center for Photography, currently being restored by hedge-fund billionaire Bruce Kovner as a palatial private residence. Rather, it was the crook trying to kick in the temporary plywood door on the construction site.
When that failed to yield, the suspect-a 35-year-old male wearing camouflage pants, a blue windbreaker and a blue baseball cap-attempted to force his way into the building through a basement window. Officer Ariano called his buddies at the 19th Precinct for backup and then apprehended the perp, holding him until his on-duty colleagues arrived. They arrested him for burglary.
Gotta Go Pee
The lack of public restrooms in the Big Apple is a scandal, but not enough of one to countenance urinating in public. At least the cops decided that was the case after they spotted a gentleman seeking relief in the vicinity of Second Avenue and 93rd Street (in front of 1802 Second Avenue, to be precise) on May 6.
When the officers approached the suspect, who unsurprisingly appeared rather intoxicated, and informed him of this breach of etiquette as well as of the law, the pisser became downright unpleasant, persuading the cops to place him under arrest. A search subsequent to his arrest found an alleged bag of marijuana in his possession.
On the way to the stationhouse, the perp didn’t brood in silence or make small talk with his captors. Instead, he decided that the smart thing to do was to threaten their lives. “I’m going to kill you when I get out,” he stated, the liquor undoubtedly working its mischief. “I just did 10 years in Attica for manslaughter.”
The cops apparently didn’t take out life-insurance policies at that point, not feeling immediately threatened, though they did characterize the suspect-a 35-year-old Astoria resident-as both “belligerent” and “hostile.” However, as they entered the stationhouse, the alleged drunk dropped down and started to push backwards. And then, as the cops tried to restrain him, he ran forward with his head and shoulder down and struck the precinct’s plate-glass entry door with sufficient velocity to break it.
At that point, he offered no further arrest and was tossed-or rather placed-in the precinct’s holding cell pending shipment downtown.