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Loose-Lipped Girlfriend Leads Police to Alleged Stuy Town Robber

By Mary Johnson | October 19, 2012 12:45pm
 Police arrested an alleged purse snatcher in Stuyvesant Town.
Police arrested an alleged purse snatcher in Stuyvesant Town.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

STUYVESANT TOWN — A man who allegedly shoved a woman to the ground and snatched her handbag in Stuyvesant Town has been arrested after his loose-lipped girlfriend gave up his identity, police said.

Jonathan Fernandez, 25, was arrested Oct. 5 after police officers spent a week pursuing the victim's report of a late-night robbery.

The incident occurred on Sept. 29 at 12:45 a.m. when a man approached the woman from behind, shoved her to the ground and her stole her purse, Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, said at a recent community meeting.

“At that time we had very little to go on,” Berntsen said. “It was late at night, and there were very few people in the area.”

But security officers at Stuyvesant Town put out extra patrols in the wake of the robbery and began closely monitoring security cameras.

Then, around 2 a.m. on Oct. 5, Stuy Town security officers spotted a man matching the vague description they had of the suspect in the same area where the attack occurred.

The man fled when Stuy Town security approached, and officers from the complex chased him to East 23rd Street between First and Second avenues, where they were met by officers from the 13th Precinct, Berntsen said.

The suspect had no identification on him and instead told police his name — a moniker cops on the scene had no way of verifying until the suspect’s girlfriend showed up, Bernsten said.

“She referred to the perpetrator by his real name, his first name,” Berntsen said.

Police had little evidence with which to hold Fernandez and had to let him go.

But when they searched databases and security footage, they came up with a match linking him to the attack.

The next step was finding Fernandez. When officers had met his girlfriend, she had provided them with a valid New York State identification. Officers tracked her, and she led them straight to the suspect, Bernsten said.

Fernandez was arrested and later confessed to the crime, Berntsen said. Police also discovered that he had been identified in two additional robberies in the East Village and that he allegedly committed a prior robbery in the Bronx and a burglary on the Lower East Side.

Berntsen honored six officers from the 13th Precinct for their work in apprehending the alleged purse snatcher at the meeting earlier this week and praised the role of Stuyvesant Town security in helping police track Fernandez down.

Fernandez was arraigned on Oct. 6 and is currently being held on $50,000 bail. He is due back in court Nov. 13.