Crime Watch

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The $6,400 Question

Thieves running the “relative in trouble” phone scam introduced a nasty new wrinkle to their scheme recently. At 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, an 85-year-old female Upper East Side resident received a phone call from a man claiming to be a detective stating that her niece was in jail. He instructed the aunt to go to one of several specific stores, including Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Home Depot, and purchase gift cards to pay for her niece’s bail. He also told her not to tell the store cashier what the gift cards were for and to make excuses if asked. That is because the NYPD has partnered with a number of chain stores — but so far not the ones specified — to protect seniors from these gift card phone scams. Unfortunately, this victim sent gift cards to the scammers in the amount of $6,400 before discovering later that her niece was not in jail.

Many Unhappy Returns

Duane Reade stores are usually preyed upon by shoplifters. Of late, an employee got in the act as well, police said. Between Thursday, April 20 and Sunday, May 21, a 28-year-old male employee of the chain’s location at 1550 Third Ave. was observed making fraudulent bottle returns and pocketing $2,050 in the process. He was subsequently arrested and charged with grand larceny.

Ferragamo Ferret

Bloomingdale’s seems well-protected against ID thieves. At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, a 38-year-old man entered the store and attempted to buy merchandise using a fraudulent credit card. The items he attempted to purchase included a pair of Ferragamo shoes, another pair valued at $260, as well as a Ferragamo belt and another priced at $480. All told, the merch was valued at $1,718. The man was arrested and charged with grand larceny, using a forged instrument and criminal possession of stolen property.

Turn for the Purse

Female bar patrons, be careful to whom you give your purse for safekeeping! At 2:30 a.m. on Friday, May 26, a 48-year-old woman was in Ethyl’s Alcohol & Food at 1629 Second Ave. when she asked a man at the bar to look after her purse while she took a turn on the dance floor. When she returned to retrieve her property 15 minutes later, the man -- and her purse -- were gone. The items stolen were a Tod’s snakeskin purse valued at $2,000, a Louis Vuitton keychain priced at $400, $100 in cash, $200 worth of makeup, a bottle of Tom Ford perfume priced at $300, plus a driver’s license and American Express card.

Inhospitable Hospital

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, a 31-year-old man from Brooklyn was getting an MRI in the facility and had his valuables secured in one of their property lockers. When he returned 45 minutes later, his property was gone, including a Paul Smith wallet valued at $300, an unknown quantity of cash, and various credit cards.

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