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Art Theft

De les dossiers de criminalité organisée:

My forte is stealing jewelry, although I put my fingers in almost every illegal enterprise I came across. You will notice however throughout this book that only a few jewelry scores are mentioned. There is a very good reason for that which unfortunately for now I cannot divulge. It would be detrimental to me, because of appeal issues I intend to use in the not too distant future. I will however give you one more unrelated jewelry score now.

I used detective shields quite a few times for scores. They are a tremendous enhancement and ease the way for otherwise possibly difficult scores. In other words, they make potentially hard scores easy. Once such score happened in the 70's in Manhattan. It was a fairly uneventful score and went off with only one minor hitch that could have proven fatal and put me and my partner in the slammer for an extended vacation had we not been very lucky.

Jewelry theif 2 1

We were told about a building where the Diamond Center (47th), that had a jewelry company on an upper floor. This jewelry company operated unassumingly in this building for years with only a select clientele of well-to-do people as customers. A gentleman who was a degenerate gambler owed low 6-figure money to friends of ours and after being an on-time payer for years, found himself unable to pay because of personal family problems. So our friends, knowing that he had a son who worked in this jewelry company, got in touch with my Skipper, who they knew had me in his crew, and asked if I'd be willing to hit this joint with solid information about this place being provided by the gentleman to them and then passed on to me. They only wanted to recoup the money owed to them from the gents gambling debts. A not unreasonable request, providing there was enough jewelry in this joint to be taken. My Skipper found out there was anywhere between 3 to 5 million dollars worth of ice at most in this place at one time because most business was done by ordering what you wanted through catalogs the business showed to their customers or by the customers themselves saying what they wanted made up. The placed had a diamond cutter and polisher on premises, as well as a receptionist, secretary and the 2 owners.

So total I would have to take 6 people, plus any customers who might be there or would walk in while we were there. The Skipper told this other crew we would only give them 20% of what we got, which was 5% over the going rate for guys giving scores. None of us had any idea how much we would get until we did the score. These guys who were bookmakers, not heist guys figured, Fuck it, anything we get is better than nothing. So they had the gent draw up a map of the whole place, letting us know where the alarms, safe and workers were located. Of course, someone could be in the shitter taking a dump when we took the place, but you only can find out so much about a score, then play the rest by ear and go with the flow. We planned what I was going to do with the score and how we would take it.

Jewelry theif 2 2

I, with the Skipper's approval, picked one of the guys from our crew who was a heist guy, but not a jewelry guy, to be my detective partner, because he could pass for a detective, just as easily as I could. So now I wanted to wait for a rainy day to do the score, figuring customers might not come in the rain and also because not as many people would be on the streets and local radio cars would be tied up with fender benders. About a week later, heavy rain was forecast for a Thursday morning. If the weatherman was on the money (good old storm) we would move on that day. I explained to my partner to just be quiet and to follow my lead. I intended to use him to keep the workers covered and to escort any customer who might arrive to the area we would have the people herded into.

Hopefully if we walked in a few minutes after opening, we would encounter no customers, which is exactly what happened. I would keep the boss with me to open the safe and then empty it into a nice-sized folded leather tote bag that my partner had tucked in the rear of his pants, under the raincoats we would wear. We cased the area, the building itself, where we would park the car, the easiest getaway route there is no easy getaway route out of Manhattan, especially daytime in the rain.

I even considered hailing a cab, or taking a subway out of the area, but finally decided on controlling my own destiny and getaway as I always did. On 6th Avenue in those days there were some meters in the area, so we decided we would get there at the crack of dawn to ensure getting a spot. The day arrived and it was pouring cats and dogs (thank you storm). We stopped in the club the previous night, had our suits and raincoats, handcuffs, shoulder holsters and badges with us, hats too and played gin until about 5 am. Then we shaved, got dressed and on a score like this, you can't really disguise yourself too much, so just dyed hair, different hairstyles, glasses for me, because I would be the most visible of the two of us and a very good fake mustache, again for me. Hats were an excellent cover so we kept our rainhats on during the entire score.

By 6 am we were parked in the spot where we would be.

We put our money into the meter for either a half hour or hour, it really didn't matter how much time we had on the meter because if all went as planned, in less than a half hour we would walk to the place (less than 5 minutes), go up to the business (a minute or two), do the score in less than 15 minutes and walk back to the car in another 5 minutes. So we went and had ham and eggs a block from the building, returned to the car when it was time to put the money in the meter, sat in the car reading the Daily News until 9 am when the business opened, then walked at a brisk clip to the building with umbrellas over our heads (great cover going and coming to the building).

In we went, up the elevator, directly to the jewelers door and stepped inside. Now there was a protective plexiglass cage protecting the business, which we knew all about. You had to be buzzed in by the receptionist first, provided she knew you had an appointment or you didn’t look like Jack the Ripper.

We would have no such problems being two of N.Y.s finest detectives. We asked for the owner by name (previously supplied to us) and I introduced myself as Detective Bogart and my partner as Detective O’Brien, from the safe and left squad. I showed my shield to her as my partner also did. Little did she know that I usually interjected a little humor into my scores whenever I could. I was Humphrey Bogart and my partner was Pat O'Brien, two very famous actors. Of course, if my first name was asked I wouldn't have said Humphrey, I would have said Joe or something.

We were quickly buzzed in and the owner was summoned. We introduced ourselves and said we were there because we had information that his business might be hit. He led us to his office and we didn't even give him a chance to sit down, because we knew he had a buzzer alarm under his desk and the receptionist had the only other alarm, also under her desk. I immediately grabbed him, put my gun right in his back, told him to turn around slowly and not make a peep, otherwise I would ventilate his body with a few holes. He was nervous but was a smart guy who decided he didn’t want to die and he was insured and cooperated with us fully.

I told him to pick up the phone and tell the receptionist to come in his office, which she did. My partner immediately put his hand over her mouth, showed her his gun and told her also to do what she was told.

She also cooperated. Now we had full entry, control of the 2 alarms and I quickly made my move to get the secretary and the polisher and cutter and the other partner who were in a back room of the office. I left my partner holding the boss and the receptionist. I quickly showed all four of them my gun and told them to be good or they would die. Then we went back and got the other partner and the receptionist. We put the 5 of them in the bathroom and told them to get on the floor. My partner had a clothesline in the leather bag he had in his pants. When we were ready to leave, I would hold them at gunpoint while he would tie them all together. He was an excellent knottier, which I already knew from a couple of his previous scores.

So now I had the partner open the safe which was in his office and empty the jewelry (mostly diamonds) into my leather bag. There were quite a few nice sized stones in there, as well as necklaces, bracelets, chains, brooches and a couple of 18-carat gold Jules Jorgenson watches, with diamond faces. I next took him to the work area, where we got quite a few other nice pieces, mostly uncut diamonds, ready to be put into assorted jewelry items. There was some cash in the safe, but when later counted it was only a little over 20 grand. So now I had everything in my bag.

I escorted him to the bathroom and had my partner tie all six of them together, which he did in a matter of minutes. The fucking guy is a genius with ropes and knots. Now we took the phone cords with us, but did nothing with the alarms, for fear of cutting them might somehow activate them to the alarm company or local precinct. We were not in that place more than 15 minutes. Down the elevator we went, back to the car, which still had time left on the meter. We put the bag in the car trunk, got in the car and guess what? The rent a car wouldn’t start.

So here we are with a load of hot jewelry in the trunk, phony badges guns and handcuffs and the car which was legally rented, sitting at a fucking midtown parking meter. You know we were not staying there to put coins in the meter and you knew once those people got free, the Diamond Center would be loaded with cops, checking everywhere and everything. Here we are, sitting in a car that won’t start, loaded with all sorts of shit that would get us on the bus to Sing Sing in a hurry, ready to abandon it, when lady luck smiled on us, big time. A private sanitation truck pulled up almost right next to us and it was a truck owned by one of our dear friends, and the driver was a guy we both knew from the neighborhood. I jumped out of the car, grabbed the driver and didn’t bullshit him.

I said he just made a score and had to get out of here in a hurry. Could he tow, push or jumpstart the car and get it the fuck out of there. I told him he and his loader had 5 grand to whack up if they would take care of this problem immediately, if not sooner. All he said was, Give me the fucking keys, this car will be out of here in minutes, even if I have to pick it up and throw it in the back of this shit bag truck. I gave him the keys and my partner and I took the bag out of the trunk and were in a cab going over to Lexington Avenue in a hurry.

We get out of the cab at 86th, after I directed the cabby to use Central Park. Onto the train we went at 86th. We got off at the Pelham Parkway Station, where I knew cabs were always waiting for a fare at the cab stand there. Into the car we went and got out of it a block away from the club on a side residential street, just in case.

We walked into the club where the Skipper was waiting for us. We told him what happened and he said what I already knew. Don’t worry about Sal the garbage truck driver and his helper. They’re both stand-up guys and will keep their mouth shut if they have to. They will take care of the car for us. Still it is only natural to worry until everything is in order. We counted the cash, looked over all the jewelry we had and decided we had somewhere around 5 to 8 million in jewels. I went home to shower and change, took the jewelry with me and within an hour was back on my way downtown, this time to the Bowery and Canal, with a lady friend of mine in the car, and let her drop me off in front of Joe Becks jewelry spot.

I told her to park the car in a nearby garage and to meet me there in 2 hours. She went to get a bite to eat, I went in the back with Joe and his personal jewelry appraiser. We went over all the goods and came up with the figure of around 6 million. With Joe, we usually operated on a percentage. I would get what the jewelry was worth in cash, so my end would come to 1-1/2 million. Joe said to come back in two days, a Saturday, and pick up the cash. I did, and as always, true to his word, Joe gave me the cash. At the club, like always, we had taken out a few good pieces for ourselves, the Skipper, myself and Det. O’Brien. I also had Joe give me a nice pair of diamond earrings for the girl who took the ride with me.

I met the girl, gave her the earrings, took her back to my apartment where I told her I needed her plumbing skills to clean out my pipes. She was with me the night before the score for an evening of sex, a practice I usually followed before most of my scores because you never know when the next time is when you will get to visit the broccoli patch. So now we had to divide up the score three ways (the Skipper, me and my partner) and give 20% to the guys who gave us the score.

Usually I give the Skipper 15% or 20 % of my scores, but on this score, he was to share equally with my partner and I for his extra efforts in putting together this score. Besides, the Skipper never let me down in my life and he would back me in any play I wanted to do and would give me any amount of cash I asked for. He is truly a remarkable guy and I look at him as a dad or uncle and he at me as a nephew or son. We had to give Sal the garbage man and his helper the 5 grand I promised him. He told us how easy everything went for them. He had jumper cables in the truck.

He jumped the car, which went dead because we left the lights on when we parked it as 6 am. He had the helper drive the car up to a garage on the Upper West Side, followed him with the garbage truck, then went back to finish their route, went and retrieved the car and drove it up to the Bronx, where they took it to the Skipper while I was downtown with Joe Beck. The Skipper gave them the 5 grand out of the cash we took.

That night when I got back to the club, after my lady friend and I bounced around in the bed for a couple of hours, I told the Skipper everything and he was very pleased with the results. We gave the guys who gave us the score their 20% which came to around $300,000. They too were as happy as flies on a pile of cowshit. They even gave the guy who owed them a little over $200,000 $25 grand for his work drawing up the map for us, which was a nice gesture on their part. He promptly lost the $25 grand back to them. He too was very happy to straighten out his back debts. The cops never even questioned him and his son never suspected him either.

Because the old man, on his own, from his many trips there (jewelry business) to meet his son, and his son talking about the place for years, knew the layout of the joint very well and about the alarms also from his son. They all passed polygraph tests. So the real detectives figured it was hit from information provided by one of the thousands of customers who patronized the place for years.

Besides we never mentioned alarms and they way we took the boss and the receptionist never made them think we even knew of the alarms. Besides all that, even if they nailed the old man, and he gave up the bookmakers, he never met us and the bookies wouldn’t give us up. So we have about 1 million, 2 hundred grand to split up 3 ways, which came to about $400,000 a piece. A nice score, but not earth shattering.

I promptly called up my #1 squeeze at the time and took off for a week in Freeport, the Bahamas. I took $100,000 with me and lost it all at a Freeport casino, called the Sultan’s Tent. I had a blast however and that old black magic called gambling, that bit me in the ass all my life, ended up getting the large bulk of that $400,000, just like it did with all my money, from all my scores. If I didn’t gamble, I would have been a millionaire a few times over (actually a lot of times over).

(This is the first of several sample chapters, from an unpublished book from across the ocean, that awaits a publishing contract. The stories are true).


First published 8.04.2015

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You may also like to read:

* The Rabbi Jewelry Score :: Inside The Mind Of A Professional Jewelry Thief

* Bad Guys Bedevil The Art Market

* Hathaway Heist - pt 1

* Hathaway Heist Part Two

* Hathaway Heist :: Update

About the Author

Dr Fungi

Dr Fungi

The pre-eminent finder of all things lost.