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Crime is Part of the Every Day life in Niagara Falls

By Frank Parlato

This week, the Niagara Falls Reporter takes a look at the kind of crimes that the Niagara Falls Police Department faces every day. You might call this a blotter,, but it is more than that.

This is a peek, a look behind the scenes, at what some 155 men and women who comprise the Niagara Falls Police Department see and face every day.

I would like the reader to imagine these incidents as if they were personally there, as if they confronted them or were confronted by them.

They speaks volumes, not only about the police, but about the people who are living here, both victims and perpetrators alike.


Sunday Feb 23

5:45 am Third Street, Niagara Falls

In a parking lot on 467 Third St.

He was from North Carolina, allegedly wearing $27,000 worth of jewelry on his person. And he was leaving the after-hours party at the Ice House bar - which means it was late Saturday night or rather very early Sunday morning. He stopped to speak with a woman, he said, then walked to his vehicle parked in the parking lot, some eight spaces from the street.

Perhaps he should have known not wear nearly $27,000 worth of shiny jewelry, a Cuban Link necklace ($8,500) a gold bracelet ($14,000) and a finger ring ($4,500), in Niagara Falls at 5 a. m., but he did, and he was confronted. Two men demanded his jewelry and soon enough forced him to turn them over to him.

No sooner had they gotten it, they fled.

The man from North Carolina, now officially listed as a victim, was left to wait on the police in the cold morning. Wonder if the jewelry was insured. And if he would wear it out so splendidly again in the wee hours of a Niagara Falls morning.


Sunday Afternoon

Robbery 3rd degree, petty larceny, criminal mischief 3rd degree

A woman was walking down the 600 block of Main Street. It was Sunday afternoon. She did not see him at first, but when a 5' 9" "skinny" black male, wearing a silver puffy jacket, dark blue jeans and a camel face mask, snuck up on her, he punched her in the back of the head and attempted to take her headphones. She was able to fight the suspect off, somewhat, but he snapped one of her earpieces off and grabbed her wallet, which contained a prepaid credit card with a $300 limit, a check, a health insurance card, a NY State permit and her non-driver ID card. She was not injured.

Think of that: A woman, walking in broad daylight down our Main St., on a Sunday afternoon, is not safe from men who will punch and rob her. It seems like it is a Third World Country. In the old days, a man like that would have been hung, if we didn't shoot him first.


Not a hit and run

Did anybody take it out on a 2010 grey Impala?

An apparent act of what might be described as a "punch and run" occurred on Cleveland Ave., sometime on this same lazy Sunday afternoon. A resident parked his car outside, on his own street, went into his home and, when he came out several hours later, he found two dents in the driver's door and a cracked mirror. He thought he had been sideswiped by a hit and run car.

Police believe, however, that someone on foot punched or kicked the car and broke the mirror - maybe out of envious spite - since there were no scratch marks on the paint that would be consistent with a car sideswipe.

Estimated damage: $200.

It could happen to you.


Feb 24, 12:14 am

Attempted burglary 3rd degree at 7-11

1500 Main St, NF

Just after midnight on Monday morning, a burglary alarm sounded, prompting NFPD Officer Michael Badolato to go to 7-11, at 1500 Main St., where he found the front window smashed. Badolato walked around the building, cautiously, curiously. When he went on the side, he observed something in the bushes. It proved to be a man, later identified as Jonathan J. Nichelson, dressed all in black, crouched down, hiding, behind a row of bushes. The officer, his gun readied, called Nichelson to come out with his hands in the air.

Nichelson had another idea. The 18year-old, 5' 8" white male bolted down Willow Ave.

Perhaps he knew Badolato couldn't shoot him. It is not like in the movies where an officer shoots his gun in the air and orders him to stop.

Instead, Badolato had to risk his own life. He had to - this is his duty - chase him.

And Nichelson was fleet of foot. But, at the intersection of Willow and 8th, cheaters proof caught up with Nicholson. He tripped over a snow bank. Once on the ground, Badolato pounced and the trained officer had Nichelson subdued and handcuffed quicker than you can say "smash a window."

Badolato followed procedure. He asked if the lad thought he needed medical attention. He said no. When asked why he ran, Nichelson admitted he smashed the window with a crowbar, which he left in the bushes. They went back to the scene and Badolato found a black bag with a crowbar hidden in the bushes. He also found wire cutters on the grass underneath some cut wires. Nicholson was transported to the hoosegow (where he belongs.) Badolato went back to his patrol car to continue his shift, as if nothing had happened. And, in a sense, nothing did. Badolato has to face these things every day, like all the cops on patrol, on a regular basis. Just another day at work.

Estimated cost to fix window: $500.


Monday: 12:45

Burglary Pine Ave and 16th

Later that day, someone pried open the door to a 2nd floor storage room on Pine Ave. and 16th. Once inside, they stole wood, copper piping and wiring, valued at $700. Damage to locks and door frames were $140.

But who was it? There were no witnesses. But the victim, the landlord, suspected his tenant, who operates a store, and is in a legal dispute with him. After all, the landlord saw wood in the tenant's shop that was exactly like the wood missing from his storage room.

Police contacted the tenant. He said the landlord was falsely accusing him to gain ground for his legal dispute. He did admit he had some wood that happened to match what was stolen, but he had receipts to prove he bought it somewhere.

Upon questioning, the tenant admitted he was seen on the second floor, but not to steal, he said, but rather to be a Good Samaritan and fix a leak for another tenant.

Who knows who's telling the truth? And how much time do police detectives spend investigating this matter?


Monday: 6 pm

Don't smoke pot in front of the Conference Center

But if you must, don't lie to police about your real name…

Patrolmen Shawn Bielec and Patrolwoman Mich-el Le King, were walking the beat from Third St. to Old Falls, when, passing by the Conference Center, they smelled the sickly sweet odor of marijuana scenting the air.

They looked around, and, inside a nearby vehicle, a 2011 Chevy Silverado, was Anthony J. Printup, 24, putting a handsome, unusually thick cigar to his mouth, taking a long, deep drag, holding it, and expelling a copious amount of fresh, hazy smoke.

The man on the passenger side seemed to have a supercilious smile on his face and was gazing vacantly into space.

The officers approached the vehicle. Printup was asked to put the cigar out, step out of the vehicle, and hand the cigar to Officer King. The cigar was placed in an evidence bag and placed into King's left pants pocket. Based on smell and the green color of the herb inside, it was strongly believed this was not tobacco.

Printup was frisked but nothing was found.

Next, the driver was given a pat down. When asked his name, he said he was Aaron Cheff, aged 22.

As both men were detained, officer Bielec searched the vehicle and ran a warrant check and DV paperwork. A purple, Royal Crown bag was found in the back, but, instead of containing a bottle of whiskey, a ski mask and copper was found stuffed inside.

After the records check, it was determined that "Cheff" had a record, and he was handcuffed and put into Officer Nicolas Granto's patrol car. It was then that a shamefaced "Mr. Cheff" admitted to Officer Bielec that he was Steven J. Zimmerman, aged 23, whose license was revoked.

Asked why he gave a phony name, Zimmerman said he just got off of parole, and did not want to get into trouble.

Nice thinking.

The officers gave an appearance ticket to the 'high' spirited Printup and sent him on his way, on foot, where he promptly went to the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Zimmerman was charged with driving a vehicle while unlicensed and criminal impersonation, 2nd degree. His father bailed him out and got the vehicle out of the street in front of the Conference Center and took it home.

Another day at work.


Tues. Feb 25

6:45 pm; Burglary; Pierce Ave

At 8 am, she locked her apartment door on Pierce Ave and went to work, leaving her laptop in its usual place on the dining room shelf. When she got home, at 5:30 pm, she noticed the front door had been opened, and her laptop was gone, along with $20 worth of change. Police found no signs of forced entry.

But here was a clue: the victim stated her daughter had a key, has a bad drug habit and, at the end of the day, is the one most likely to be responsible for the loss of her laptop and change.

Did she want her daughter arrested? She probably should, to get her dried out.


Larceny While Gambling.

Tuesday night: A gent, driving his 2011 Chrysler Town and County, and, perhaps, in the mood to gamble, used the valet services at the Seneca Niagara Casino. He handed the keys to the valet, and left his car, along with two Nintendo 3D DS systems and accessories and games, which were on the passenger seats, he claimed in a police report.

During the period while his car was in sovereign Seneca territory and, under the auspices of that foreign nation's valet service, these items, who the victim claims were worth $2,008, disappeared. The victim told police he suspects that the doors were left unlocked by the valet. But really who knows?


Weds: Feb 26

Sounds like Fabian Carter to me

On the 2400 block of Woodlawn Ave., an unlocked side door of a garage was all it took to prompt a visit. Perhaps the owner, sleeping soundly in the night, thought, since she padlocked the gate of the fence in her yard, that she need not lock the side door of her garage, too. It was a mistake.

She made a second mistake, too. She locked her car. Yes, in her own garage, she locked her blue 2005 Subaru. The criminal, perhaps some drug addicted person, desperate for a fix, perhaps Fabian Carter himself, Niagara Falls most arrested man, or one of his ilk, finding the garage door unlocked and a car door locked, broke the driver's side window. Nothing was stolen. There was nothing to steal. But it will cost someone $150 to replace that window.


Weds Feb 26 10:45 am Burglary

Sometime on Wednesday, between 5:30 am and 10:45 am, a door was kicked in, a window smashed, and belongings strewn all about a woman's McKoon Ave. apartment. A desktop computer and DVDs were stolen. Adding insult to injury, a liquor bottle was moved from the top of the refrigerator and placed on the bed. There were fingerprints on the bottle. Some of its contents, enjoyed, perhaps, in a toast to a successful crime by the perpetrator.

Police went outside and found fresh footprints on the railroad tracks leading toward the taxpayer-subsidized Apple Walk apartments near Highgate.

Detectives will investigate.


Weds Feb 26

An out-of-state woman drove over to her relative's home on 98th St in her rental car. She parked in the driveway, and, well, carelessly, left her computer bag, I-Pad, a Harley Davidson sweatshirt, and a jacket, on the passenger seat, and, having come from a civilized place, she forgot she was in Niagara Falls, and failed to lock the door. Total value of loss: $695.


Wed., 11 pm., Pierce Ave

Drunken man beats up friend

Steven J. Paige had a snoot full one fine Wednesday night and feeling superior started an argument with his friend in his friend's kitchen on Pierce Ave.

What started as high bragging talk soon developed into outrage and anger.

The victim tried to avoid the drunken Steven J. Paige, but could not, as Paige menaced him then shoved him. The victim fell to the floor banging his right elbow on the stove door.

When the victim stood up, he ran upstairs, but Paige lumbered up. The victim warned Paige not to come up all the way or he would shove Paige right down the stairs. But Paige, undaunted, first insulted the man's dead mother, then slobbered further up the stairs, then caught the man and shoved him down and this time the victim's left elbow got caught on the dresser.

After bruising both of the victim's elbows sufficiently, Paige suddenly calmed down, and, when he turned away to dream it off, the victim called 911.

Paige was handcuffed and taken into custody. Photos were taken of the man's injuries. What else is new?


Menacing with a shotgun

Time 11:15 pm

Date Feb 26

Alcohol and bad blood almost leads to bloodbath.

About the time a drunken Steven J. Paige was damaging his victim's elbows, police dispatch got a call. 98th St: one party pointing a shotgun at another.

Officers Joseph Scibilia and William Kutis were dispatched to the scene at around 10:15 pm.

The officers parked their vehicles several houses down the street and approached the residence stealthily, with pistols un-holstered.

They entered the driveway, between two vehicles, and they suddenly encountered a male, tentatively identified as "Hendrix," exiting the side door of the residence with a shotgun in his hand. Scibilia raised his pistol and ordered Hendrix to "put up his hands."

He did. Then Hendrix explained, that inside, his mother's boyfriend, Richard Eldridge, 46, and he had been in an argument and Eldridge pulled a shotgun on him.

He indicated his mother and Eldridge, her boyfriend, were still in the house.

Hendrix was handcuffed, and officer Kutis stood by Hendrix, while Scibillia entered the residence.

In the kitchen, Scibilia encountered two intoxicated people, a woman, and her boyfriend, Eldridge, who was bleeding from the nose.

He was promptly secured in handcuffs.

Scibilia observed blood on the living room floor, in a hallway leading to the bathroom, and bedrooms, and in the bathroom sink. He called for a supervisor and Lt. David Kinney was dispatched and soon arrived.

The mother told her story. She admitted Eldridge pushed her. That she and her lover, Eldridge, had gotten into an argument and it escalated - aided and abetted by alcohol - and, as the story was related to police, when Hendrix heard his mother crying, "let go of me" he came in and found Eldridge with his hands on his mother. Hendrix told him to let go.

Eldridge didn't. The son separated the two.

The two men "got into each other's faces," as mom explained, and they began to push each other. Mom said the two fell to the ground. Then got up. Eldridge began shouting obscenities at Hendrix then went to his bedroom, then came back out with a shotgun and pointed it at Hendrix, the barrel a foot away. Hendrix, scoffing, asked Eldridge if he was going to shoot him. Eldridge pulled the trigger. There was a click, but the gun did not fire.

Hendrix grabbed for the barrel. In the fight for the gun, he took Eldridge to the ground with him and punched him in the face three times and loosened his grip on the shotgun. Hendrix then handed the shotgun over to his mother and laid upon Eldridge until he thought he had calmed down.

But when he let Eldridge up, he right away went to go to the basement where it was known he kept more guns. Hendrix blocked Eldridge's path and called police.

Eldridge, exhausted and bleeding, and drunk, sat down.

The mother insisted that Eldridge was a good person. She hoped he would not have to be arrested. Sure he and her son argued frequently. But, she told police, she was not afraid of Eldridge; she did not want him to go to jail. There would be no more problems.

Lt. Kinney asked if there were additional weapons in the house. Eldridge lied and said there weren't. Both mother and son said there were, and they led them to the basement. Officers found four compound bows, a Luger rifle, and a locked "stack on" gun safe with unknown contents. Eldridge refused to tell officers where the keys were. Lt. Kinney instructed Scibilia to transport Eldridge to the hospital for treatment. The shotgun and safe were seized and loaded into a crime scene detectives' vehicle for transport. The safe keys were located and given to detectives, so it could be opened when it arrived at headquarters.

Eldridge was booked for menacing 2nd. He was lucky it was not for murder. Another work day in Niagara Falls for police.


Thursday, Feb. 27

An employee of The Tulip Corporation on Highland Ave was the victim of a car break in. The victim parked his 2011 Chevrolet in the parking lot at 7 am., and went to work.

He forgot for a moment that he lived in Niagara Falls.

He left $500 in cash out of sight in his glove compartment.

Around 9:45, workers heard a car alarm go off. They rushed to the scene only to discover that it was Dion's car. When he checked his vehicle, he discovered the cash was missing. Beside the car there was a thin strip of metal, commonly known as a slim jim, which may have been employed as a lockout tool. In their eagerness to help, some of the fellow workers picked it up and examined it.

Sure it was the tool the thief utilized. But with all those fingerprints "the evidentiary usefulness has been diminished," the police report read.

A locked car in the city, in a business' parking lot, in the morning, was not safe.

Keep your money hidden, but not in your car. Morning is at seven. But all is not well with the world. This is Niagara Falls.


A woman began moving out of her 15th St. apartment. She was paid until the end of the month. At around 3 pm, she moved most of her possessions to her new place. When she returned to pick up the rest she found she was locked out.

The maintenance man changed the locks.

She called her landlord, Investors Services. They promptly gave her a new key.

Entering her old apartment, she discovered her tool kit and drill, worth about $100, had been taken from a cabinet in the kitchen.

Investors Services told police that the woman was lying but, upon further questioning, they reported they "would investigate and question the maintenance man."

Chances are if they do they will find him smiling, working wondrously well, with his new drill and tool kit. A better maintenance man for all o' that.


March 2

10 a.m., Buffalo Ave.

He parked his Nissan in the alley, and noticed in the morning that items inside were scattered on the floor. His owner's manual was gone, as was his registration card, and $20 in change. He forgot to lock his vehicle.

Anybody seen Fabian Carter around? And what the hell could someone get for a Nissan manual, anyway, a dollar?


Welch Ave March 5, 7 am Burglary

Sometime in the night while he was out, someone entered a man's residence and removed his laptop computer and tools worth $3,500. His girlfriend was there for a short time while he was gone and she told police she may have left the front door unlocked. There were no signs of forced entry. Might tell the girlfriend to be more careful. But then again, who knows?


Ice Cold Shoplifters

Police were dispatched to Tops on Portage Road on a shoplifter complaint.

Upon arrival, the officer observed two Tops employees on top of two suspects.

The officer, Nicolas Granto, handcuffed both and helped them off the ground. They were teenagers one of them named Philip A. Jones. They had been seen taking items then passing all points of purchase without paying for the items. The suspects were confronted by Tops employees and subdued.

Granto recovered the entirety of the stolen goods. They were: four, six ounce ice cream containers from Jones, who shoved the tasty treats inside his coat sleeve. And the other teenager had a container of sprinkles on his person.

The estimated value of the stolen items was $7.95.

Police transported the duo to police headquarters. The lads were not permitted to eat the ice cream which by the time they were arrested, were, for the most part, soggy and nearly melted, anyway.


Gent not careful?

A white Ford E150 parked in the driveway on the north side of 71 St was relived of items when its owner was away for the weekend helping his girlfriend move.

When he came home he observed his car was unlocked.

Missing from inside were medication, a tool bag, and two Milwaukee drill sets, a saw, four sets of brass fittings, two tool bags and miscellaneous tools.

He did not have serial numbers for any of the tools. Neighbors saw nothing.

What can one say about a person who in Niagara Falls leaves $13,000 worth of tools and possessions in a car and goes away for the weekend?


Armed Robbery? Hard to say…

Finally, a 73-year-old man, Thomas Jones, formerly of 100 Ferry Ave., told police he was the victim of an armed robbery that occurred between 10:30 pm and 11 pm. Jones told police he was walking on Pine Ave near 9th Street, when two black males wearing hoodies approached and tapped him on the back.

Mr. Jones turned to see what they wanted, and one of them brandished a pistol and demanded his money. Jones said he was shook up and fearful so he gave the two men $680.

When asked by police why he had so much money on him at night, Jones said he liked having money in his pockets in case he decides to go to the casino. In fact he said he had just withdrawn the money from an ATM.

When asked if he could identify the suspects, Jones said he was too shook up to remember anything. There were no witnesses, he said.

Then Jones made a funny statement. He said to the officer that he needed a police report so he could go to Social Services to get his money back, and the report will "show he is not lying." Jones said that the money was his rent money, and so, now that he lost it, he is staying in the City Mission for the time being. But he left in a hurry, stating he needed to get to church and that he would get the report at a later time.


While many of the crimes might seem petty, no crime is petty to its victim. And, while we have not reported all the crimes that occurred this past week or so, since space did not permit it, the selection of a raft of crimes as given above will hopefully give our many readers from out of town a taste of what it is like to live in Niagara Falls, in the winter of 2014.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 11, 2014