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50 Charity Walkers Robbed In Park During Daylight

April 29, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ About 50 participants in a walk for charity were beset by daylight marauders who grabbed necklaces, purses and other valuables in Central Park, and 11 people were arrested on robbery charges, police reported Monday.

Detective Evans Andre said a witness told him Sunday’s walk-a-thon ″just turned into a rob-a-thon.″

Two 19-year-old girls in the march found themselves ″swept up″ by a band of about 100 youths, said Lt. James Keneally.

″Their chains were gone, their clothes were ripped. They looked like they had been through a tornado,″ he said.

″We are shocked and outraged,″ said Gene Sower, a spokesman for the WalkAmerica march of the Greater New York March of Dimes.

″It is unfortunate that in spite of the presence of police, the good acts of so many were tarnished by the wanton acts of a few,″ he said.

Sixty-four police officers under the command of a lieutenant and six sergeants were deployed when the 18.6-mile walk began in the morning. When the robberies broke out during the return leg through the park in the afternoon an additional seven sergeants and 45 officers were sent, said Officer Fred Elwick.

Sower said 26,000 people participated in the walk-a-thon and, if pledged contributions come through, it would raise $1.7 million.

Seventeen robberies and 21 grand larcenies were reported in the park and seven of the victims were injured, said Elwick. In addition, nine robberies and three grand larcenies were reported along streets adjoining the sprawling Manhattan park, he said.

The injured walkers suffered bruises and cuts, most of them from chain- snatchings, but none required hospital treatment, said Sgt. Ed LeSchack.

Of the 11 arrested, four were identified as career criminals and face severe prosecution, Elwick said.

Another mass-participation event, a 36-mile bicycle tour of the city’s five boroughs, went off without any similar incidents Sunday.

About 95 percent of the 20,000 pedalers who started from Manhattan’s Battery Park made it through Central Park, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island and back to the Battery via the ferry, said Peter Barbero, spokesman for sponsoring organizations.

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