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Squatter Took Over Penthouse of Irving Place Building, Police Say

By Noah Hurowitz | March 13, 2017 5:23pm
 A burglary squatted an apartment at 51 Irving Plaza in Feburary and broke into several occupied apartments, stealing cash, credit cards, and electronics, according to police.
A burglary squatted an apartment at 51 Irving Plaza in Feburary and broke into several occupied apartments, stealing cash, credit cards, and electronics, according to police.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

GRAMERCY — A homeless squatter briefly moved in to a tony Irving Place apartment building — looting neighboring units while staying in a vacant penthouse apartment, according to police and prosecutors.

Wesley Torres, 21, stole electronics, credit cards, and cash from apartments while squatting inside 51 Irving Place and 53 Irving Place — which share a building — between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, according his criminal complaint.

Torres spent several days living in the penthouse apartment at 51 Irving Place, which he told investigators was under renovation at the time, according to a criminal complaint.

Torres first struck at 53 Irving Place, between East 17th and East 18th streets, on Feb. 21, police said. The victim, a resident of an apartment in the building, told investigators he awoke at around 1 a.m. to find his laptop, iPhone, and wallet containing credit cards and $100 cash, missing, according to the criminal complaint. 

The next day, a resident of an apartment in 51 Irving Place, on the corner of East 17th Street, awoke at about 12:30 a.m. to find that someone had entered his apartment and swiped a laptop, a wallet containing a handful of credit cards, and $200 in cash that had been in his apartment, police said.

Torres’ burglary spree came to an end on Feb. 28, when the resident of an apartment in 51 Irving Place walked into his apartment to find Torres standing in the foyer at about 6:30 a.m., police said. Torres fled but the victim found that his wallet, several credit cards, and $200 were missing from his apartment, according to a criminal complaint.

Police caught up with Torres on March 1 and arrested him in connection to the three burglaries, according to a police report. During interrogation, he told police that he was homeless and had spent some time living in 51 Irving Place, according to the criminal complaint.

“For a few days I lived inside the penthouse apartment,” he told a detective. 

While he was squatting there, he said he began to try doors in the building to see if they were unlocked, stealing cash and fencing laptops at an electronics store in Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

“I went to the first floor and started opening doors to different apartments in the building,” he told the detective. “I took whatever I could find. I used the credit cards to to buy things for me and my girlfriend.”

Prosecutors initially charged Torres with three counts of burglary and nine counts of grand larceny, and a grand jury later indicted him on felony burglary charges, records show.

A judge ordered him held on $35,000 cash bail or $75,000 bond. He is due back in court on April 5, records show.

Torres' court-appointed lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.