City LivingAugust 23, 2017

Crime and Punishment: Dealing with an NYC break-in

Illustration by Peter Arkle

I had to call the New York City police to report a theft—and felt slightly guilty doing it. Because I knew that of all the crimes occurring throughout the five boroughs at that moment, my issue was surely a low priority. But it was an emergency in my world, and I needed a police report for insurance purposes.

My golf clubs were missing.

For almost two years, I parked my beat-up Chrysler 200 on 93rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway without a problem. But on a cold night in February 2015, someone broke into the trunk.

When I got to my car that morning to make the roughly 40-mile drive to Golf Digest's old headquarters in Wilton, Conn., I noticed the trunk was slightly ajar. I figured I'd clicked the trunk button by accident to unlock the car, so I pushed it shut and didn't give it a thought until I arrived at work. Then I peered into the trunk and, of course, my clubs—and my roommate Matt's—were gone.

Now what? I called the Wilton police department and was told I needed to report the crime where it took place. When I got back to my block that night, I made the shameful 911 call, and within 10 minutes, an NYPD car pulled up. I explained to the two officers how I didn't notice the clubs were missing until I was in Connecticut, and one of the officers cut me off: "Is this some insurance play, buddy? It is tax season."

I get it. It's New York City, where everyone has a b.s. detector. But I wasn't angling at all. And frankly, I wasn't thrilled that the officer had that reaction. "No, sir. If you have a lie-detector test, I'll prove it," I offered.

"Wait here," he told me. He and his partner went back to their car for about 10 minutes before returning to tell me: "We can't help. Your point of discovery was in Connecticut, so you need to report it with them."

The next day I told the Wilton police what the NYPD cops said. The guy laughed. "Those guys just told you that to get rid of you.

There's no such thing as a point of discovery." OK, so someone was definitely messing with me. Thankfully, my brother is in law enforcement. I called him and explained the situation. "Point of discovery?" he said. "They literally just made something up to shut you up. You gotta go back."

The next day my roommate and I visited the NYPD's 24th Precinct, and the detective I spoke with refused to write up a report, citing the "point of discovery" explanation again. At that point, my brother called the detective's office to ask them to write up a report. The next day, a detective called me and asked me to come back to the precinct to give them all the details.

From then on, he was helpful—even calling me about a lead on some golf clubs that popped up in a pawn shop in Syracuse, N.Y. But they didn't fit the description of either set. The golf clubs were gone.

“Is this some insurance play, buddy?” asked the NYPD officer.

Matt and I filed claims for both stolen sets through my mom's homeowners' insurance, because I was still on her policy. That part was simple. We each filled out a club-by-club report of our sets, and we got the money to go buy new sets. My mom still gives me grief over how the claim hiked her rates. Sorry, Ma.

Today I live across the river in Hoboken, N.J., but I always take my clubs out of my trunk when I park on the streets. And I take anything valuable with me out of my car.

As for the runaround I got from the detectives, New York Police Department spokesman Lt. John Grimpel apologized and said they were "misinformed on the process."

If you feel you're not receiving the proper attention from an officer, ask for a supervisor to be called to the scene, he says. "The responding officers should've taken a police report when someone claims their property is stolen in New York," Grimpel says. "It doesn't matter that it's golf clubs. You were the victim of a crime."

He won't get an argument from any golfer I know.


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