West Side Crime Watch
Lightning Quick Thieves
Credit card theft and fraud are still some of the most prevalent crimes on the Upper West Side. The perpetrators of these crimes are often clever and quick, and victims sometimes don't even realize they've been targeted until the sneaky thieves are well on their way to a shopping spree across town.
Last Friday, Feb. 17, two brothers were enjoying coffee at a table in a local Starbucks. One of the men placed his satchel on the floor right by his feet. While the pair sipped their java, two women approached to inform them that they had witnessed a tall white man bend over near their table with a napkin, presumably to pick something up, instead picking up the man's Armani wallet, itself worth $180, with $420 cash and several credit cards and pieces of identification inside. The brothers never noticed the offender and told police they weren't jostled or bumped in the slightest.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, a 13-year-old girl went to the movies and didn't discover until she was home that her mother's credit card was missing from her purse. By the time mom was able to call the credit card company to report it, two charges totalling over $1,000 had already been made.
And on Sunday, Feb. 19, a woman was shopping at a neighborhood pharmacy on West 72nd Street. She returned home a block away to find her wallet gone. When she called to report the theft, she discovered that someone-she suspected a woman in the pharmacy but could not be sure-had lifted the cards and charged $1,141.28 to her Citibank card and another $2,178.70 to her Chase card.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, a woman was riding a downtown subway when an unknown man approached her and forcefully took her cell phone from her hand. When the train stopped, the thief spotted a uniformed police officer on the platform and thought better of his crime, giving the phone back to his victim before exiting the car and fleeing. The stunned victim stayed on the train and got off at 34th Street to report the crime. Police checked the phone for prints and canvassed to no avail, but the woman walked away with her phone.
An Upper West Side woman reported jewelry missing from her dresser on Friday, Feb. 7. She told police that she had not worn her Tiffany diamond bracelet, valued at $2,500, or her Tiffany yellow sapphire brooch, worth $800, since Jan. 20, and when she went to retrieve them they were gone. The woman gave no indication of who might have taken the pricey pieces.
Magic Car Theft
Last Wednesday, Feb. 18, a man parked his car in a private garage on the Upper West Side. He locked the garage with the keypad, to which he has a security code. When he returned later to retrieve his 2008 grey Ford sedan, the car was gone. The garage was locked, there was no broken glass around the empty parking space and no nearby cameras to fill in the mystery of how the vehicle escaped. Police put the value of the car at $8,000 and are searching for suspects.
A woman came to the 20th Precinct last week to report an attempted rape that she said occurred almost a year ago. The woman returned to her Upper West Side apartment with a male friend one night and fell asleep. When she awoke, she told police, the so-called friend was attempting to rape her and wouldn't let up, even when she pushed him and repeatedly told him to stop. It's unclear why the victim waited to report the crime, but it has been referred to the Special Victims Unit for further investigation.
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