Police Blotter (Manhattan Express), Week of May 2, 2019

Midtown North


Art theft


‘Basket case’

A sculpture was stolen last week from Galeries Bartoux, at 104 Central Park South, police said.

On Thurs., April 25, around 4:30 p.m., a man entered the gallery and stole the artwork, valued at $16,000. The sculpture is by the artist Fred Allard and resembles a traditional shopping basket made of crystal resin adorned with gold chains.

Police announced two days later on April 27 that they had arrested Zoltan Genc, 61, a Bronx resident, and charged him with grand larceny.


A Bronx man stole this artwork from a Central Park South gallery, police said. (Courtesy D.C.P.I.)


19th Precinct


Phone scam

An elderly Upper East Side resident was tricked into giving a stranger $20,000, police said.

In mid-April, a 91-year-old man received a phone call from a stranger saying that his grandson needed bail money.

The concerned grandfather agreed to give the unknown caller cash.

On April 10, the grandfather sent his “house man” to give the unknown caller $9,000 in the lobby of his apartment building. On April 11, the grandfather met with the unknown caller in the lobby to give him an additional $11,000 in cash.

According to police at the 19th Precinct, after the second payment, the worried granddad eventually found out that his grandson was not in jail. Shortly after speaking with his grandson, he notified police that he had been scammed.


Capital offense

At a Capital One bank branch at 249 E. 86th St. a woman named Elizabeth Velasquez tried to fraudulently cash a check for $2,000, police said.

On April 15, Velasquez tried to use a fake Pennsylvania ID and debit card to cash a check made out to Maritza Pineda. According to police, at some point during her time in the bank, Velasquez claimed that she was Pineda’s sister and that the check had been mailed to her.

The teller attending Velasquez called Pineda after noticing the ID was fake and after seeing a notification on the account stating that fraud was being attempted.

Velasquez had tried to cash the same check at another Capital One bank earlier, according to police.

While on the phone with Pineda, the teller was able to confirm that Velasquez was not who she said she was and called the police. Velasquez was arrested.



Social Security scam

Another elderly Upper East Side resident fell victim to scammers earlier this month.

On April 10, a 73-year-old woman told police that she received a letter in the mail stating that her Social Security benefits were going to levied.

The woman then received a phone call from someone claiming to be from American Tax Solutions, saying that they could lower the levy amount from $28,949 to $200, if she paid them a total of $3,800 over 23 months.

The victim then told police that she gave American Tax Solutions a down payment of $1,000 and signed a contract giving them power of attorney.

It wasn’t until she spoke on the phone with a representative from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance that she learned it is illegal to levy Social Security benefits and that she had been a victim of a scam.

According to police, the woman said she closed the account that American Tax Solutions was going to take funds from.



Cell-phone snatch

On April 11, a 41-year-old woman standing in front of 312 E. 95th St. at 6:12 p.m. was approached by an unknown man who snatched her phone from her hand.

Officers from the 19th Precinct that were close by stopped the thief at the northeast corner of Lexington Ave. and 96th St. and retrieved the iPhone 6, valued at $300.


20th Precinct


Missing person

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a 66-year-old man who went missing two months ago.

Hamilton Pena was last seen on Fri., March 1, at 11 a.m. while leaving his home at 2345 Broadway. Pena is about 5 feet tall and has a thin build.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the CrimeStoppers Web site at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.


Broken window

Police are looking for a man wanted for kicking in a glass window.

On April 24, at 4:30 p.m., two men reportedly argued outside of an Epicerie Boulud eatery at 1900 Broadway. At some point during the dispute, one of them kicked the restaurant’s window, causing it to shatter.

Police shared an image of a suspect on social media.


Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
and Gabe Herman