Police Blotter, Week of July 11, 2013 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Police Blotter, Week of July 11, 2013

Cabbie helps collar crooks  A keen-eyed cab driver certainly deserved a hefty tip for his efforts early on July 2, when he played a key role in helping police collar two alleged thieves.

Police said it all started around 1:30 a.m., when a man — later identified as Alrajia Winbush, 20 — reportedly crept up behind a  woman, 24, walking past the corner of 14th St. and Sixth Ave., and ripped her cell phone out of her hand before fleeing east on 14th St. The victim also told officers that, immediately after that incident, a second man — later identified as Jeffrey Bennit, 19 — approached her, also from behind, and asked her, “Want me to go get him?”

But Bennit’s comment was apparently only intended to confuse and distract the victim, according to the cab driver. The hack, who told police he’d witnessed the entire incident while in his taxi, began following Bennit after he’d spoken to the victim, tracking him to the corner of E. 14th St. and Fifth Ave., where Bennit met up with Winbush and started chatting with him. According to the cabbie, this suggested the two men had been working together to make off with the phone. Police thought so, too.

The heroic hack then called police to report the crime and the suspects’ whereabouts — then continued to trail Winbush and Bennit in his taxi, following them all the way to the corner of E. 12th St. and University Place, where the pair had paused for a moment. When he spotted a passing police car, the driver got out of his cab to flag down the officers and point out Winbush and Bennit.

The two officers then followed the two men for about another block in order to observe them in the act of displaying and using the stolen phone. While Winbush and Bennit were walking east on E. 11th St., between Universtiy Place and Broadway, the cops ordered them to stop and submit to a search.

But the suspects attempted to flee. They dropped the phone, split up and sprinted away in opposite directions. The two officers, however, were fast enough to catch and arrest both of them after brief chases. Winbush was apprehended at E. 11th St. and Fourth Ave., and Bennit at W. 11th St. and Sixth Ave. After making the arrests, the police also recovered the phone. Winbush and Bennit were charged with robbery.

Groper caught in the end  A woman, 32, called police on her cell phone just after midnight on July 6, to report that a man had grabbed her rear end. According to the woman, a stranger — later identified as Tyler Reynolds, 22 — snuck up from behind while she was standing at the corner of W. 14th St. and Seventh Ave., grabbed her butt, and walked away.

As she called the police, the woman tailed Reynolds as he walked away, and her tips on the alleged creep’s location helped officers apprehend him near the corner of Perry St. and Greenwich Ave. The victim positively identified Reynolds before the officers arrested him. He was charged with forcible touching.

‘Flour’ is toast  Police said they saw Kyle Riggs, 37, drawing graffiti on a payphone near the corner of Jones St. and W. Fourth St., around 2 a.m. on July 4, using a white marker. They apprehended Riggs and inspected his illegal handiwork — the word “Flour” written on the payphone’s side.

At the Sixth Precinct, the officers did research on the “Flour” marking, and found it was Riggs’s personal tag — one that had been reported in three unsolved graffiti incidents, all in the Village on June 15. On that day, owners of Il Villagio nail salon and Townhouse Shops clothing boutique — both on LaGuardia Place, between West Houston and Bleecker Sts. — and a manager at GMT bar, at the corner of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker St., all told police they had found “Flour” scratched into the front windows of their establishments.

Riggs eventually admitted to being responsible for the previous graffiti. So, in addition to charging him with making graffiti on July 4, police also slapped Riggs with three charges of criminal mischief.

Glass smash  Police arrested Christopher Stewart, 54, on the night of July 2 after he allegedly shoved another man through the front window of a West Village bodega.

A worker at Sixth Ave. News and Tobacco, at 488 Sixth Ave., between W. 12th and W. 13th Sts., told officers that, around 11:30 p.m., he saw Stewart get into a verbal altercation with the other man just outside the shop. According to that witness, the dispute escalated quickly, ending when Stewart pushed the man hard enough to send him flying into the bodega’s window, shattering it.

The man who was shoved — who was uninjured, according to police — and the store worker detained Stewart while the worker called police, who quickly arrived to arrest him. Police declined to charge Stewart with assault, but did charge him with felony criminal mischief.

—  Sam Spokony