EAST VILLAGE — A teenager pretending to gather signatures for a petition was arrested for swiping a passport and wallet from an East Village Starbucks customer — and then biting the victim in the face when confronted, police said.
Jamel Chandler, 18, approached a man in the Astor Place Starbucks at about 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 and asked him to sign a petition, according to police and the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Chandler then placed a clipboard over the victim's wallet, which contained a passport, credit cards and cash, to distract the victim and grab the wallet, police said.
When another customer spotted the theft and alerted the victim, the man confronted Chandler outside the store, where a scuffle between the two ended with Chandler biting the victim in the face, drawing blood, police said.
Chandler fled with the victim's wallet, but left behind two iPhones, a hat and a shoe, according to the DA's office.
By the time police arrested Chandler on Dec. 9, he had conned nine other people, police said.
He struck at a Starbucks at 334 Fifth Ave. on Nov. 24; a Pret a Manger at 303 Park Ave. South on Nov. 27; Gregory's Coffee at 874 Sixth Ave. on Nov. 27; Potbelly sandwich shop at 41 W. 14th St. on Nov. 27; Newsbar at 107 University Pl. on No. 29; a Starbucks at 180 W. Broadway on Nov. 30; the Caffe Bene at 287 Seventh Ave. on Dec. 2 and the Panera Bread at 10 Union Square East on Dec. 4, police said.
On Sept. 28, at a Starbucks at 41 Union Square West, Chandler used a newspaper instead of clipboard to cover a victim's iPhone before taking it, police said.
He was charged with robbery, identity theft, five counts of grand larceny and 10 counts of petit larceny, the DA's office said.
Chandler, a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant who police said has 29 prior arrests, was being held on $20,000 bail as of Wednesday, according to police.
Information about Chandler's lawyer was not immediately available.