IMG_0974 LOBBY PKG THIEF ARRESTED BLUR 050714 sm10x8-72 ©2014 JBolanos

A police officer and two Upper West Siders chased down a man who police say was stealing packages from a building on West 76th street. It all went down around noon on Wednesday on West 76th between Central Park West and Columbus. Hear the tale told below by local resident Joseph Bolanos:

As some of you know, recently our area has been victimized by a serial burglary spree by a person, or persons, unknown. Earlier today [Wednesday], a couple of local police officers came by while I was sitting on my stoop to discuss the ongoing lobby package burglaries in the area. I was watching the block because some thefts have occurred recently, on Wednesday & Thursday.

As I was sitting on the stoop, I noticed a male Hispanic that I had seen on the block previously and I had noted his presence on the block. As recent as two days ago I had spotted the individual on the block. I had noted that he was pretending to be a “locksmith card dropper.” These are individuals who leave locksmith cards in building lobbies as solicitations.

I watched the subject enter building 38 near me. He had a backpack that was pretty flat (empty) as he entered the building. When 2 minutes passed, I left my stoop to check the bldg vestibule from the sidewalk. I could see the subject trying to push the locked, inner door of the vestibule. I didn’t have time for the 911 Q&A delays that you get when you call so I called one of the officers that I had spoken with earlier. I told him what I saw and suspected.

The officer stated that he was on his way (scooter). Meanwhile the suspect was now leaving 38 bldg and his backpack was full and sagging. Minutes later, the police officer (J. VinCek) arrived in the area and approached and questioned the individual. Subject talked with the officer and presented ID. Then the subject began to feign some sort of seizure and the officer walked him onto the shady part of the sidewalk.

I was watching during the entire time. When police officer opened the suspect’s backpack he pulled out a black package ((box). After reading the label, the officer instructed the subject to turn around in order to handcuff him. The suspect started screaming and fled the scene, running at top speed towards Columbus Ave & 76. The officer and myself and two neighbors were in pursuit. On the corner of Columbus Avenue & 76th Street we caught up to the perp who was resisting being handcuffed

We assisted the officer in subduing the perp to the ground where he was handcuffed. Minutes later, about 5-6 NYPD cars arrived in response to the call by the officer. The box turned out a package of a 38 bldg resident that was delivered earlier.

This was an amazing convergence of events. We were very lucky. And even luckier that this perp was on my radar since a few days ago.

Kudos to PO Vincek for his amazingly fast response. I am recommending him to 1 Police Plaza for a commendation for his fine work today. I still suspect that there may be other perps in the area using the same modus operandi. We will remain alert until further notice.”

A police spokesman says the man arrested is named Tony Rivera, a 52-year-old homeless man. He was charged with possession of burglar’s tools, petit larceny, resisting arrest, possession of stolen property, and possession of a controlled substance. The spokesman said Rivera had “an alleged crack pipe with alleged residue inside.” The arrest was made at 12:47 p.m. in front of 60 West 76th street.


Photos by Joseph Bolanos.

NEWS | 16 comments | permalink
    1. ShermCraig says:

      Well done all! The photo that was hung in our building’s vestibule on W. 74th St was of what appeared to be a younger, shorter guy with black hair and a beard. Regardless, glad this guy is off the streets, and hopefully his arrest will deter the others that may be involved.

    2. webot says:

      Kudos Joe.

      Thank you

    3. kaylord says:

      Finally! Someone has been stealing from our bldg on 75th, too. It was confusing because we’ve seen a person who looks like the man above in our building and leaving our building (w. a box of pots and pans no less!). He’s been telling our neighbors that he’s caught the thief whose photo, like in ShermCraig’s bldg, is hanging in our lobby.

    4. joseph bolanos says:

      hello, all. ..
      the composite picture in some lobbies was distributed by me in early march. The suspect in that picture has a vague similarity to the person arrested wednesday . a profile picture comparison done yesterday has some features being almost identical to both individuals, but not 100% conclusive. So, we are still alert and watching for anyone matching the composite. In the meantime, i don’t think that wednesday’s arrested suspect will ve stealing packages for a very long time. we can only hope.

    5. Smartduck says:

      Our building (on Columbus) has come together and been on the lookout for this guy for weeks and were so relieved when he caught last week. We didn’t know until recently though, thanks to post from the West Side Rag, that he’d been hitting all the buildings in our area. So glad he was caught.

    6. West76 says:

      Awesome work Joe!

      Pointer: if someone rings your bell with a package/delivery for a neighbor, ask “who is for?” and make sure they give you the person’s first and last names before you buzz them in. This only works if the names aren’t printed at the front door. 🙂

      • Smartduck says:

        Good tip–and one to follow. We thought this was the issue, but it turned out in our building the person waited to follow other delivery people into the building . We also hear he had a lock pick and was breaking in. He has been incredibly persistent.

      • Joseph Bolanos says:

        Thank you, west76.

    7. webot says:

      Is this what the kvetchers mean when they want to return to the good old days of the 1970s?

      street crime and mayhem?

    8. Steve Hyman says:

      I always use Joe to catch the perps. He always is on guard and the neighbor hood protector. I am very proud of him.


    9. Vickie says:

      Great job Joe! Wish there were more good Samaritans like you around. Proud to know you….. Vickie

    10. Bruce Bernstein says:

      “props” to Joe Bolanos… and let’s remember that the just a few weeks ago, Joe Bolanos was being trashed by some commenters on this site.. because he is a “community activist.” shame on them and props to Joe.

    11. Liz says:

      It’s getting scary out there. It seems crime is getting closer and closer to home. As I always tell my neighbors who have a tendency to leave apt. doors open and items unattended, you can’t be to careful.

      Neighbors should work together as the eyes and ears of their buildings and the neighborhood and should report any suspicious activities.