Police Blotter, Week of Jan. 30, 2014

Call-in scam
Police are investigating a new scam operation that most recently targeted a Financial District restaurant on Jan. 9.

An unknown person claiming to work for Con Edison made a telephone call to an employee of French Cafe Gourmand, at 9 Maiden Ln., that day, and falsely said the restaurant’s power would be shut off if new payments were not made immediately, according to cops. The scammer told the employee to purchase two prepaid cards — specifically, a Green Dot Money-Pak card — and put a total of $1,970 on them.

The restaurant employee, thinking that Con Ed needed the utility payment through those cards, then provided the scammer with the cards’ authorization codes — in effect, wiring all of that money directly to the perpetrator, who remained anonymous via phone calls.

Beware of new phone scam, cops warn

The N.Y.P.D.’s First Precinct is warning the Downtown community about a new scam using prepaid debit card, often a Green Dot Money-Pak. Police say criminals are using each of the following tactics:

1) A caller informs the victim that they own back taxes to the I.R.S. and must make immediate payment with a Green Dot Money-Pak.

2) The victim’s family member had a car accident and the caller threatens physical violence unless immediate reimbursement is made with a Green Dot Money-Pak.

3) The caller poses as representative of a utility company and demands immediate payment by Green Dot Money-Pak, stating that your electricity or gas will be turned off if no payments are made.

Crime Prevention Tips

—Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.

 —Remember that anyone who has the number on a Green Dot Money-Pak car has access to the funds on that card.

—Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.

—Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot Money-Pak card numbers to someone you do not know.

—Utility companies and government agencies will not contact you demanding immediate payment by Green Dot Money-Pak.

For more info, visit www.nyc.gov/nypd or text “NYPD” to 22828 to join the mailing list.

Burglary buzz
Police are also investigating a string of four overnight burglaries that took place in Soho over the past week, which they believe are all connected.

Sometime during the late-night and early-morning hours between Jan. 22 and 23, unknown burglars gained access to the front lobby of 141 Wooster St., and then took an elevator up to the fourth floor and entered an office of a book publisher called Overlook Press, cops said. The thieves made off with $600 in cash, as well as three credit cards — one of which was later used to make a fraudulent purchase.

Between Jan. 25 and 26, burglars broke into 3NY, a fashion outlet at 448 Broome St., and snatched up seven women’s bags and four jackets, collectively valued at around $5,000, police said.

Between Jan. 27 and 28, a pair pried open the front door of the Ugg Australia shoe store, at 79 Mercer St., and made off with 12 pairs of boots, collectively valued at around $2,000, police said. According to video surveillance tapes that cops recovered from the store, one of the intruders acted as a lookout while the other stole the property.

And then, between Jan. 28 and 29, burglars also broke into Palmer Trading Company, a menswear store at 137 Sullivan St., police said. At presstime, it was still unclear what exactly had been stolen, and the investigation into that incident was still underway.

Bank robbery
A daring robber made off with around $6,000 from a Chase Bank near the World Trade Center on Jan. 25, police said.

The man, about 25 to 30 years old, walked into the 101 Barclay St. bank around 11 a.m., and passed a teller a note stating that he had a gun and wanted $10,000 cash, cops said. Even though the bank only handed over a portion of that money, the robber took his bag and fled, and was last spotted heading east on Murray St., eluding police for now.

Elderly assault
Police arrested a 36-year-old man early on Jan. 22 after they say he beat up an elderly woman on a subway train.

The woman, 67, told cops that she and the attacker  got into an argument while they were both riding a northbound 2 train around 3:30 a.m. — and as the train was pulling into the Park Pl. station, he reportedly punched her in the face.

The victim was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and subsequently released after being treated for minor injuries, and the suspect was apprehended on the Park Pl. station platform.

He was charged with assault.

Jewelry theft
A sneaky thief got away with around $33,000 worth of jewelry after tricking a Tribeca store employee on Jan. 16, police said.

David Yurman Design, at 24 Vestry St., was preparing to give the 13 pricey rings to a delivery man for a fashion photo shoot that day — so when the thief entered the store and apparently knew all the details of the delivery, he was given the goods. But the store later learned that rings never made it to the planned destination, and subsequently reported the crime to police on Jan. 22.

Police said the suspect is around 35 years old, and while they know the name he gave to the jewelry store while claiming to be the delivery man, they believe it may have been an alias used to aid in the theft.

Bumped and swiped
A woman was targeted by a jostling thief on a Downtown subway platform on Jan. 27, police said.

She told cops she was walking towards a 2 train inside the Fulton St. station around 4 p.m., when an unknown man bumped into her, said “I’m sorry,” and walked away. Moments later, the woman realized that he iPhone had been lifted from her coat pocket.

Garbage man impersonator arrested
Police arrested a 52-year-old man two days after they say he and an accomplice stole cash from a Tribeca bar while pretending to be city sanitation workers.

The suspect and the other man, who is also believed to be in his 50s or 60s, showed up outside Cricketeer Arms, at 57 Murray St., around 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, before the bar had opened for the day, police said. There was only one employee present at the time, and the two men convinced him that they would write the bar a summons if he did not come outside and clear garbage from the front of the establishment, police said.

While the employee was outside cleaning up, one of the thieves dashed inside and stole $710 from the bar’s cash register, after which they fled the scene. One was later arrested on Jan. 19 based on descriptions provided by the employee. He was charged with burglary.

Police said they believe that the two were also responsible for an almost identical burglary — including their bogus sanitation worker act — that took place on Dec. 30 at Fresh Salt, a bar near the South Street Seaport.

Senior is bloodied
Police arrested a 24-year-old man on Jan. 15 after he alleged attacked an elderly man in the Financial District.

After an apparent dispute on a sidewalk near the corner of Fulton and William Sts. around 2 p.m., the attacker reportedly punched the 74-year-old man in the face, leaving him with a cut on his nose and causing him to break his ankle as he fell to the ground, police said.  The victim was taken to nearby New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and treated for his injuries.

Upon his arrest shortly afterwards, the suspect told cops that the elderly man had “disrespected” him — and police said they believe that, in this case, the aggressor may be mentally ill. He was charged with assault.

Self-conscious thieves?
Two thieves got away with stealing more than $1,600 worth of tooth whitening products from a convenience store in Battery Park City on Jan. 19, police said.

A man and a woman, both believed to be their 20s, walked into the Duane Reade at 325 North End Ave. around 1:30 p.m., according to the store’s video surveillance footage. The pair quickly snatched up 26 boxes of Crest Whitestrips before dashing back out, police said.

Gym locker thefts
A slick, lockpicking thief is believed to have to stolen from two different Downtown gyms on the morning of Jan. 16, police said.

First, a man who was working out in Planet Fitness, at 25 Broadway, around 7:30 a.m. told cops that his gym locker had been broken into, and his wallet was gone. Although it was clear that a theft had occurred, his combination lock was apparently still in place when he returned from his workout, and there were no signs of forced entry to the locker.

Then, another man who was working out in Equinox, at 14 Wall St., around 8:30 a.m. told cops an identical story — although he lost much, much more. This time, the lock had again been cleanly picked, and the thief made off with the victim’s laptop and 10 checks that were collectively worth around $10,000, police said.

— SAM SPOKONY

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