Police nab octogenarian wanted for yearslong crime spree

Posted at 8:28 PM, Sep 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 22:28:58-04

NEW YORK – It was the “unassuming demeanor, simple clothes, and large glasses” that police say helped the elderly man pull off his heists: more than $400,000 in jewelry and watches allegedly taken from New York City apartments over the past five years.

The New York Times reports Samuel Sabatino, variously identified as 81 or 82, has been hit with 11 counts of burglary in a case that police have been working for almost a decade.

Police say Sabatino, whom they accuse of driving from Florida to New York during the summer holiday periods like July 4th and Labor Day, would slip virtually unnoticed past most doormen in luxury apartment buildings. He’d then allegedly look for apartments with packages or mail piled up, suggesting tenants were away, and try various doors until he found an unlocked one.

Cops say if he ran into anyone during his attempted break-ins, he’d pretend to have confused his floors.

A “nanny-cam” video released by cops in 2015 and seen by the New York Post shows what appears to be Sabatino rummaging through an East 86th Street apartment. Police say Sabatino may also have been involved in burglaries in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and California.

He’s suspected of using cash to cross toll bridges and staying in New Jersey during his alleged crime sprees to avoid detection, NBC News reports.

Sabatino, who could face up to 15 years if convicted, was arrested Saturday after a suspicious doorman called the cops; his bail was set at $250,000.

“You would never expect a man his age to be doing this,” an NYPD police rep tells the Times; it details Sabatino’s criminal history, which dates to the late ’60s. (Read more theft stories.)

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