Pick-pockets preying on customers at local Trader Joe’s markets

Trader Joe’s market on Sixth Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The NYPD wants help from Trader Joe’s to stop pickpocketing in their stores but the California-based grocer reportedly does not want to spare the expense. Thirteenth Precinct Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said that the company has been unwilling to install security cameras in their stores to aid the police department in catching sticky-fingered suspects who have reportedly been stealing from other customers in the store.

“They’ve been targeting Trader Joe’s because they know they can get away with it,” Hellman told Town & Village of the suspects. “When we don’t have video, it’s almost impossible to make any arrests on these cases. The lack of cooperation from Trader Joe’s shows a lack of empathy for the victims and the people shopping at their stores.”

Police said that after a handful of unattended property thefts this summer, the NYPD was able to convince the company to install security cameras but the cameras were ultimately removed before officers were even able to get access to the footage through a warrant for one of the recent cases.

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Female bag thief preying on women at Union Square Starbucks

Nov16 Bag theft suspect2

Theft suspect at jewelry store

Cops are looking for a woman believed to have stolen wallets and bags from women at Starbucks as well as Gemma restaurant inside the Bowery Hotel. The thief apparently takes bags and wallets that their owners have hung on the backs of their chairs and uses their credit cards.

Two of the incidents took place at the Starbucks at 10 Union Square East.
On Saturday evening, October 14, a 24-year-old woman was having coffee when she realized her wallet was missing. She then discovered her credit card was used at a nearby Taco Bell at 18 East 14th Street.

On Monday morning, October 16, a 25-year-old woman at Starbucks realized the bag she’d placed on the floor next to her had disappeared. In this case, there were no unauthorized charges.

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Woman steals phone, then punches victim for taking it back

July20 robbery

Robbery suspect

Police are looking for a woman who attacked her victim at the Union Square subway station when the other woman confronted her for swiping her phone.

It was on Tuesday afternoon, when the victim, a 27-year-old woman, was going down the stairs to a 4 train platform when she noticed that her cell phone had just been swiped from her bag. The woman then confronted the pick-pocket and managed to get her phone back. The suspect put up a fight though, grabbing the victim by the hair and punching her multiple times in the head. She then fled the subway station.

The victim refused medical attention.

The suspect, who is wanted for robbery, is described as Hispanic, approximately 30 years old, 5’3″ tall, 100 lbs., with straight long brown hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing a multi-colored dress.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

This pair has been stealing wallets from women at bars since October

Feb23 wallet theft woman.jpg

Female suspect

Police are looking for a man and woman who’ve been working together to steal women’s wallets at bars in Union Square, Kips Bay, Greenwich Village and the East Village. In numerous cases, the thieves have then withdrawn money from victims’ bank accounts at banks in the Bronx or made fraudulent purchases at stores.

The strings of thefts started in October, and according to police, the pattern is as follows:

On Friday, October 14 at 10:30 p.m., one or both suspects approached a 27 year-old female victim at Fiddle Sticks at 56 Greenwich Avenue near Seventh Avenue and swiped her wallet. Later, $800 from her account was withdrawn at a Chase Bank at 90 East 170 Street in the Bronx.

On Friday, October 21 between 6 and 10 p.m., one of the suspects stole a wallet from a 27-year-old woman inside V-Bar at 132 First Avenue and St. Marks Place. One or both of the thieves then later withdrew $1,200 in cash from her account inside Wells Fargo Bank, located at 3709 Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx. They also charged $357 to the victim’s credit cards.

On Saturday, November 19 at 8 p.m., a 35-year-old woman at Banc Café, located at 431 Third Avenue near East 30th Street had her wallet stolen from her purse, which had been hanging on a chair. The wallet contained $140 in cash and three credit cards. Police believe the male suspect later charged $136 to one of the victim’s credit cards at a Starbucks.


Male suspect

On Wednesday, December 7 at 10:40 p.m., one or both suspects struck again at Republic Bar at 37 Union Square and East 17th Street, taking a wallet from a bag that had been on the floor. The victim later discovered that $1,100 was stolen from her bank account.

On Monday, December 12 at 7 p.m., a 28-year-old woman at Peter McManus Cafe at 152 7th Avenue at West 19th Street had her wallet stolen. The wallet only contained $14 in cash and a credit card, which was later charged for $520 inside a Duane Reade at 161 East 23rd Street.

On Monday, December 19 between 7:45 hours and 10:21 hours, a woman’s wallet went missing at Brazen Fox, located at 106 Third Avenue at East 13th Street. The wallet contained four credit cards and one debit card, one of which was used at a Duane Reade at 4 West 4 Street for $336.49 in goods.

On Friday, December 23 at approximately 7:15 p.m., one or both suspects stole a wallet from a woman’s pocketbook at Suite 36, located at 16 West 16th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The wallet contained $80 and two of the victim’s credit cards were later used to make multiple purchases.

On Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24 at approximately 9:15 p.m., a 33-year-old woman was notified that approximately $5,000 was charged to her credit cards by one or both of the aforementioned individuals.

The suspects are described as a white woman with long, blonde hair and a man.

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Cops warn of spike in scams, larcenies: Crime down overall, but scam calls, pick-pocketings and assaults are up

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

At the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent monthly meeting this past Tuesday, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg told residents about the slight decrease in overall crime for the area in the last month, although there has been a spike in larcenies.

The number of grand larcenies jumped by 7.7 percent in the last month, although Ehrenberg noted that the precinct is still down 4.9 percent for the year. He said that there has been an increase in pickpockets, as well as an increase in cons.

“There’s a new scam that criminals have been trying, where they use information about people’s family and medical conditions,” the commanding officer said. “There have been phone calls from people that the victims know.”

He noted that the phone calls are not actually from people known to the victim but are criminals who have managed to fake a phone number and manipulate the caller ID.

Ehrenberg added that there has also been an increase in ransom call scams, where criminals will call a victim and demand money for a ransom, but he noted that this was a known scam and that anyone receiving such a call should notify 911 immediately.

The commanding officer also noted that there has been a specific increase in grand larcenies of unattended property in restaurants and despite the recent arrest of suspects thought to be responsible for some of these crimes, he warned residents not to be careless with their property while sitting in restaurants in the neighborhood, specifically in eating establishments around Union Square.

“You have to be aware of your personal belongings,” he said.

There has also been an increase in murder for the precinct, which Ehrenberg said was due to the shooting that took place at Home Depot at the end of January ahead of the season’s first big snow storm. A former employee had gone in to confront one of the store managers, shot him and ultimately shot himself.

Inspector Ehrenberg said that the scene was especially chaotic because the store was so busy with people who were preparing for the snow, but commended both civilians and officers for their quick response. Before police arrived, witnesses had taken it upon themselves to perform CPR on the shooting victim and police continued until EMS arrived.

Felony assaults also increased 18.2 percent in the past month, and Inspector Ehrenberg said this was especially notable because half of these incidents were domestic violence. In two of the cases, Ehrenberg said that the suspects had been involved in domestic violence previously with other partners. He added that the increases were also due to an assault on a lieutenant and on nurses at Bellevue who were assaulted while attending to patients.

Robberies were down 14.3 percent for the precinct in the last month and burglaries were down 63 percent.

Inspector Ehrenberg honored the Cop of the Month from both last month and this month, since the officer last month wasn’t able to attend the meeting to be recognized for his work. Officer Phil McGovern was given the award for January for work that he did last December when a child was choking at Blue Smoke on East 27th Street. He was able to dislodge what was blocking the child’s airway before the EMS arrived by using the version of the Heimlich maneuver that is performed on children.

The commanding officer noted that some of the bad press the police department has been receiving in the last few months has overshadowed the officers who have been working hard, so he wanted to acknowledge the good work that McGovern had done.

Officer Jason Negron was given the honor for this month for making an arrest on a suspect who had been noted on a “wanted” poster and was responsible for a number of grand larcenies in various precincts throughout the city.

Detective Ray Dorrian announced at the meeting that the Citizens Police Academy would be starting up soon and the precinct is now accepting applications. He noted that anyone interested in the program can get an application by contacting him at (212) 477-7427.

Community Council President Frank Scala encouraged those at the meeting to take the course, saying that he had taken it before and had found it very useful.

“For that week you are a police officer and you learn a lot of things in it,” he said.

Police Watch, April 24

Bank robbery suspect

Bank robbery suspect

Cops are seeking the public’s assistance in locating ta man wanted in connection with two attempted and one completed bank robberies.
One of the incidents occurred in the Bronx with another taking place in Inwood. A third happened in the Midtown South precinct last Friday at around 11:25 a.m.
In that incident, the robber walked into a Capital One Bank at 404 5th Avenue by East 37th Street, approached a teller and passed a note demanding money. The teller then handed him approximately $2,800 before he fled the location. The suspect is described as a male, approximately 5’7” with a medium build and goatee.

Police arrested 24-year-old Ricky Despiau for assault at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and East 18th Street last Monday at 4:55 p.m.
A 71-year-old man reported that he was walking his dog when Despiau walked nearby with his dog. Despiau allegedly got aggressive and kicked the victim’s dog and the two got into an argument that resulted in a physical fight. Despiau punched the victim in the face and pushed him to the ground, police said.

Police arrested two subway performers last week in separate incidents.
Nineteen-year-old Ainsley Brundage was arrested for reckless endangerment  last Monday at 2:45 p.m. at the First Avenue L station. Brundage was allegedly dancing and flipping on the poles in an Eighth Avenue-bound L train while playing music on a speaker. The teen also panhandled for money afterwards, police said.
Police arrested 19-year-old Yushon Stroughn for reckless endangerment on the same Monday at 3:15 p.m. at the Union Square L station. Stroughn allegedly danced and flipped on a moving Eighth Avenue-bound L train while playing music on a speaker and also asked for money afterwards.

A 75-year-old woman reported that her car was damaged while it was parked at the southeast corner of Third Avenue and East 17th Street last Saturday at noon. She told police that when she returned to her parked vehicle, she noticed that it had been struck.

Police arrested a 14-year-old boy for petit larceny in front of 333 East 14th Street last Monday at 7:20 p.m. The teen rode the bike east on East 14th Street before he was stopped at First Avenue. He told police that it was his bike and that his friend has the key but then he later recanted, saying that it wasn’t his but that he was going to return it. The boy’s name is being withheld due to his age.

Police arrested 35-year-old Dennis Jackson for intoxicated driving last Friday at 1:59 a.m. opposite 827 East 14th Street. Jackson allegedly drove while impaired by alcohol and caused a crash that resulted in his car flipping and blocking oncoming traffic. A field breathalyzer resulted in a .114 BAC, police said.

Police arrested 29-year-old Henry Engroff for petit larceny in front of 5 Peter Cooper Road last Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Engroff allegedly snatched a bag from a cart without permission and walked away. The bag contained a nut driver, an iPad mini, screw driver bits, nut bolts and a small tool channel lock.

A 57-year-old resident of 276 First Avenue in Stuyvesant Town reported last Thursday at 10:30 p.m. that her neighbor has been harassing her. She told police that the woman has been banging on the walls, cursing at the victim and yelling that since she pays rent, she can yell as loud as she wants. The victim said that Stuyvesant Town security has been notified.

A 70-year-old resident of 18 Stuyvesant Oval reported last Thursday at 3:53 p.m. that her identity was stolen at some point between April 1 and April 8. She told police that an unknown person used her Social Security number and filed a tax return dated April 1. She was informed on April 8 by the IRS that her taxes were filed and she needed a report from the police to further investigate the matter.

A 52-year-old man reported that his phone was stolen while he was inside Equinox Gym at 897 Broadway last Wednesday at 1:25 p.m. He told police that he was in the locker room changing and he put his phone on a shelf in a locker. When he went to retrieve his phone about five minutes later, he found that the phone had been stolen. He reported that he never left the front of the locker but there were multiple people next to him during the incident.

A 49-year-old man reported that he was harassed while he was at the New York Racquet Club inside 270 Park Avenue South last Saturday at 1:58 p.m. He told police that an unknown man confronted him while he was swimming in the pool. The man yelled at him in an aggressive manner and the victim said that he was alarmed and annoyed.

The Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance identifying an individual believed to be behind a string of thefts in

Surveillance photo of suspect

Surveillance photo of suspect

the confines of the 6th and the 13th precincts.
According to police, the man, described as black, 25 to 35 years old, 5’9 to 6’0, and wearing a backpack, sunglasses and a dark hoodie, took a 24-year-old woman’s wallet at a Chipotle at 55 East 8th Street in the 6th precinct on Friday, February 28.
On Tuesday, March 18 at 3 p.m., the same man is believed to have walked into Think Coffee at 250 Mercer Street in the 6th precinct and taken a 28-year-old mam’s unattended bag containing a laptop and electronic tablet.
On Saturday, March 22 at 2:15 p.m., the suspect entered the Starbucks located at 45 West 4th Street in the 6th precinct and swiped a woman’s unattended laptop.
He then entered The Pit Stop at 123 East 24th Street in the 13th Precinct and stole a 26 year-old man’s bag on Saturday, April 5.
Two days later on April 7, he grabbed a woman’s bag, containing a wallet and a laptop at Artichoke Pizza, located at 111 MacDougal Street in the 6th precinct.
On April 8 at 6:10 p.m., the suspect entered the NYU Campus located at 5 University Place in the 6th precinct and took a woman’s laptop.
On April 14, he headed to the Pot Belly Deli at 333 Park Avenue in the 13th precinct where he stole a 22-year-woman’s backpack.

A 50-year-old man reported that he got into an argument with someone else over a parking space opposite 430 East 20th Street last Wednesday at 9 a.m. He told police that the person he was arguing with told him that he could take the parking space but that he shouldn’t be surprised if he found damage to his car when he came back. The victim said that he felt threatened. No arrests were made.

Police arrested a 14-year-old boy for criminal possession of stolen property opposite 10 Union Square East last Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. Police approached the teen because he was riding a bike on the sidewalk instead of inside the park. The officer asked him if the bike belonged to him and the boy responded that he found it on the street and just took it.
The bicycle belongs to the bike share program and the boy did not have the authority to use the bike without paying for it. The bike share program told police that the bike was worth $1,200 and was last docked at 8:36 a.m. at West 21st Street and Sixth Avenue. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

Police arrest 50-year-old Ronald Hutt for grand larceny last Wednesday at 9 p.m. inside Rodeo at 375 Third Avenue. Hutt allegedly removed credit cards from inside a 45-year-old man’s jacket without permission. He then took the credit cards and made purchases at the adjacent Duane Reade without permission, police said.