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Art Theft

De les dossiers de criminalité organisée:

rabbi 1

Most of the jewelers in the Diamond Center (47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue) are all Hasidic Jews, or Hasidem. I personally respect all religions; however, although I deeply respect Judaism, I find the garb or dress code of the Hasidic Jews to be very funny. We in my neighborhood and in my world call them the dirty shoe guys. I have never seen a neatly groomed and freshly-ironed, clean clothes and tie and hat, Hasidic Jew. Their hats are usually dirty and tattered, although sometimes new, and often the neatest part of their attire. Their white dress shirts are rarely clean and pressed. The long black coats they wear are always dirty. Their pants usually wrinkled and dirty, and damned if they ever shined their shoes, you would never know it.

One day I was given a jewelry score. This particular Hasidic Jew jeweler, like most of them, often carried jewelry in their attaché cases, or in the inner pockets of their long black coats, in velvet cases. They rode trains, buses and often used their own cars to travel to and fro from their homes to the Diamond Center. To take this guy in the Diamond Center is extremely difficult because of all the places in N.Y.C., there are more cops, agents and private security guys running around in all sorts of disguises than in any part of the city.

I did take one great jewelry score (an inside job) out of the Diamond Center and it was difficult, but done under ideal circumstances and a driving rainstorm. That score turned out to be comical at the end, when we left the building where we posed as N.Y.C. detectives and the car we had parked nearby, at a meter on 6th Avenue (such was the precise timing we used on that score), wouldn’t start. To say we were flustered would be a great understatement. We were totally out of sync. That’s when the Garbage Gods shone brightly on us. As we were contemplating getting in a cab and beating it out of there with our few million dollars in jewelry, leaving the legitimate rent-a-car behind, which would have eventually gotten us busted with good detective work (a hot car or switched plates were not an option on this score), along came a big green private sanitation truck, owned by a very good friend of mine. (Most, if not all, private sanitation companies in N.Y.C. at that time were owned and controlled by the N.Y.C. crime families).

Anthony, the owners son, was driving and he had his helper hanging off the back. He saw me at almost the same time I saw him. I waved him down and a quick plan was devised. I told Anthony, whom I could totally trust, we just made a score and we gotta get the fuck out of here, but we gotta get this fucking rent-a-wreck outta here; take care of it for me and come see me at the Club tonight, and you and your helper got yourselves several grand. I jumped in a cab with my partner and the booty, changing cabs two more times and going back to the Bronx. Anthony later told me how they got the car outta there within a couple of minutes. They hooked the front bumper of the car with chains and the helper steered while they towed the car totally out of the area. Talk about catching a break, St. Vito of the Garbage Dumps sent us 2 angels, disguised as dirty, smelly garbage men, on their big fly-infested green chariot.

Back to the Hasidic jeweler. We knew where this guy worked and lived and the exacting schedule he kept. I was told on a certain day of the week, he brought a lot of jewelry from his home (all unset stones, 1 carat and up), to his place in the Diamond Center. So I spent a good month following his routine and was now convinced it was best to take him when he came out of his house in the morning and got in his car, which was parked in his very deep, sloping driveway, in front of his garage. He lived on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, near Kings Highway. This is a strong Jewish conclave, where a guy like me would stand out early in the morning, like 6 sore thumbs. So I was presented with a few problems and had to put on my thinking cap to devise a hoped-for, new flawless plan. I went to a lifelong friend of mine who owned a dry cleaners in the Bronx. This friend on previous occasions had supplied me and others with all sorts of uniforms needed for scores. I’d gotten an air freight company’s uniform for a score at J.F.K., a mailman’s uniform, a priest’s suit, a police uniform and a gas company uniform for scores I made over the years. He had one dirty shoe guy’s coat, which I took. I picked up a very good straggly beard and even got a beautician friend of mine to make me up sideburn curls out of real hair, which I could easily glue on.

Ocean Parkway is a huge thoroughfare and there are benches all along on the inner service road island. All the elderly Jewish people sit on these benches in the summer, soaking up the sun and chatting with their friends. So I had to somehow blend in, which is where my Hasidic get-up would come in when the time came. There is a Jewish Daily Newspaper that we gentiles call the Owl Owl newspaper, because the headline name on the front page looks like the words Owl Owl in some strange, convoluted way.

The day of the score, I went to a local newsstand and picked up my copy of Owl Owl. I then went home and put on my dirty black shoes, wrinkled tie, slightly wrinkled white shirt, my long black coat, which I threw dust all over then brushed it off, my black circular hat, I pasted on my sideburn curls, put on my beard, had my hair stringy and dyed (Ms. Clairol) and got in my car at around 6:30 am and headed for Ocean Parkway, where I would park my car a safe, but close distance away for my getaway. Of course I had my trusty 38 Colt Detective Special with me, which I would later put in my coat pocket for easy access.

The jeweler lived in an attached brick house. With the traffic I encountered, I got to Ocean Parkway around 8:10 am. The jeweler usually left around 8:45 for his drive in to Manhattan. I parked my car around the corner from his house and strolled the block or so to the benches and plopped my ass down, took out my Owl Owl and for all the world to see, there sat Moishe the Hasidem, reading his Jewish daily and soaking up the sun. Thank God they wear lighter coats in summer, because I was sweating my balls off in that get-up. I don’t know how in Gods name they wear that shit, although maybe that is how they wear it, in Gods name. I was sitting directly in front of the jeweler’s house, where as soon as he came out and closed the door, started down the 8 steps and went to his car, I would make my move to intercept him as he got to his car door. I was only perhaps 15 or 20 strides from his driveway. The thing I worried about most was some other Hasidem or some elderly Jewish people would come up to me and start speaking in Yiddish or Hebrew.

Thank God that didn’t happen.

At about 8:45 the door opened and here came my score. I immediately started for his driveway and car. He didn’t even notice me coming towards him. As he got to his car door, down the sloping driveway, I was on him like a fly on shit. I was mostly hidden from the sidewalk and street’s view because of the steep incline of that driveway. I pulled the gun out of my pocket and pointed it directly at his face and announced, Give me your jewelry pouch or I’ll blow your fucking brains all over this driveway. 99 out of 100 times, the person will meekly give you their belongings and not get hurt. The only problem is, I was never told to not rob a Hasidic Jew jeweler because they will die before giving up their precious jewelry. The guy actually had the balls to say, with a gun right in his face, I will not give you anything.

Now I never look to hurt anyone, and in fact never have, on my scores, except for the 3 or 4 times I had no choice and had to crack a guy’s nose open or bust them in the head, but that was the extent of my violence while scoring. So I cracked this guy right across the nose, with the pistol butt. It broke immediately and he went down and I had to whack him around a little, till he was basically helpless. I then took his jewelry pouch, left him laying there moaning and walked to my car, which only took me a minute to get to. I got in, started to drive and while driving, took off my hat, sideburns, beard and shirt, tie and coat, leaving myself in my undershirt. I opened the window, put my arm out, threw all the stuff in a dumpster that I had scoped out a few blocks away, at the side entrance to a store, and continued down Kings Highway at a leisurely pace, looking like to all the world an Italian guy with black hair, driving in a predominantly Italian neighborhood (the Italian neighborhood started within a mile of the score), on my way to work or wherever.

Within ten minutes I got on the Belt Parkway at Bay Parkway and was on my way home. The score turned out to be much smaller than anticipated, but after I took the jewelry to our fence, on the Bowery and Canal Street (the other Diamond Center in N.Y.C.), I was pleasantly surprised to find out my fence, who was a mob Capo for a different family, had a real nice score for me a couple of months down the road. I forget exactly what I ended up with for the Rabbi score, but I always got paid in cash immediately. I think I cleared a couple of hundred grand for that score, but was expecting around a million. You might ask yourself, how could he forget how much he got? The answer is easy. I’ve gone on well over 50 scores in my career. Scores of all kinds, with jewelry scores taking the #1 slot.

Some of these things happened over 20 years ago and I’ll be damned if I remember what I got for all of them, although I can safely say I remember the exact amount of probably 80% or better of my scores. As I said, I think it was a couple of hundred grand. I gave my Skipper his cut and the guy who gave me the score his 15% finders fee. I rarely, if ever, beat anybody out of what was due them, because that was bad business and would greatly tarnish my reputation as a stand-up guy to do business with.

(This is the second of a selection of sample chapters, from an unpublished book from across the ocean, that awaits a publishing contract. To read the first sample, click here. The stories are true).


First published 8.5.2015

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You may also like to read:

*  Inside the MInd of a professional Jewelry thief

*  Hathaway Heist - pt 1

*  Hathaway Heist Part Two

*  Ceci N’est Pas Une Policier         

*  Two Cottage Doors

About the Author

Dr Fungi

Dr Fungi

The pre-eminent finder of all things lost.