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by Ralph Gardner

In a Manhattan crime blotter, money goes missing.


If you've ever wondered why cabbies take so long to make change, rummaging through money belts, underwear, glove compartments, and the occasional lockbox, the reason became apparent on September 9, 2006 at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan. A cabby, apparently a rookie or a surpassingly trusting soul, had pulled up to a red light, his money roll in his left side shirt pocket. That was certainly the most convenient place to put it but also the most vulnerable, as he shortly discovered.

A male on a bicycle — in fact a male on a bicycle who happened to be circling the cab (which probably should have suggested the cabbie promptly move his profits to a more secure location) — completed his final circumference of the cab, reached into his victim's pocket and plucked out his wad of currency, approximately $150 to $160.

To the cabby's credit, he surrendered the dough under protest. Some sort of struggle ensued. But it nonetheless ended in triumph for the cyclist, who fled on his bike with the cash in hand eastbound on 59th Street. A police canvas of the area for the perp came up negative.


There are more do's and don'ts when it comes to shoplifting than we have time to enunciate here, but undoubtedly one of the most basic is not to get too ostentatious, not to grab for the item that shouts, "Look at me, look at how fabulous I am!", and not simply because the security tag sets off the boutique's burglar alarms.

Such was the case on September 21, when a gentleman visited the Gianfranco Ferre shop at 870 Madison Avenue at 4:55 p.m. Rather than filch something quiet like a pair of charcoal trousers, this guy had to go for the ostrich and cashmere jacket valued at $14,628. And if that wasn't rude enough, instead of retreating to the fitting room and stuffing it into a foil-lined bag, as prudence would suggest, or even better, hiding it on his person, the perp deposited it in a blue gym bag in plain sight of a sales associate.

The suspect, a 45-year-old male, left the location, but he didn't get very far. The cops responded to the scene and arrested him for grand larceny.


If you sell a guy a table for $250 on Craig's List and he sends you a check for $3,500, and asks for change, shouldn't that arouse suspicion? Apparently not, if you're the 1315 Third Avenue resident who sold the furniture through Craig's List, forwarding back $3,139 through Western Union. A police report didn't question her calculations (they're busy looking for guys with dirty bombs in backpacks), even though the amount of the check plus the price of the table doesn't add up to $3,500. But no matter since the buyer's check bounced anyway. The victim, a 30-year-old female, was notified by Commerce Bank that the check she received for her table was forged, and the account on which it was drawn nonexistent.

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Articles in this Issue

Manzanar, by Karen Piper
The Phoenix Agent, by Robley Wilson
The Life of One Man as Found in the Garbage, by Elizabeth Monoian
My Berlin, by Karin Finell
Coats of Arms, by Justin Bednarz
Criminology, by Ralph Gardner
Paranormal Technology, by Alex Boese
Athletics, by Zack Hample
October 2006


Ralph Gardner is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, a columnist for the New York Observer, and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker and Spy, in addition to other publications. He lives in New York City.

Where loss is found.

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