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Apple Bank on 86th Street, via Google Maps. Inset: Rodriguez, via Brooklyn DA's office

Apple Bank on 86th Street, via Google Maps. Inset: Michael Rodriguez, via Brooklyn DA’s office

The man police believe attempted the March 26 robbery of Apple Bank at 1973 86th Street is now in handcuffs, and is accused of going on a 10-day bank heist spree that hit three banks successfully before being turned away at the Bensonhurst branch.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announces charges against Michael Rodriguez, 33, accusing him of robbing three banks and attempting to rob a fourth, all between March 16 and March 26.

Rodriguez faces multiple charges of larceny and robbery, among others, after making off with more than $23,000 in total.

“We simply will not allow anyone to rob our banks in broad daylight and terrorize bank tellers in the process. We will hold the Defendant accountable for this bank robbery spree,” Thomspon said in a release.

According to prosecutors, Rodriguez allegedly walked into each bank and handed the bank teller a hand-written note – all in the same pen, type of paper, and identical wording including misspellings.

The note demanded money and said he had a gun. The suspect never spoke a word.

Surveillance footage captured the suspect, believed to be Rodriguez, in each of the locations, wearing a hooded black full-length North Face coat.

According to prosecutors, Rodriguez’s first heist was the Flushing Bank, 4616 13th Avenue, where he made off with $5,761 on March 16. Then he scored $485 from Investor’s Bank at 431 Court Street on March 19. Two days later, he allegedly hit another Flushing Bank, this time at 7102 3rd Avenue, where he netted a whopping $16,943.

On March 26, he hit Apple Bank at 1973 86th Street. Bensonhurst Bean was the first to report on the robbery, and the DA notes that the suspect was turned away by a teller.

Following that job, Rodriguez was busted the very same day. He was cuffed at his 2860 West 23rd Street home in Coney Island. The DA said police matched the defendant’s fingerprints to those found on a note from the March 19 incident. The note from the Bensonhurst job was found in the defendant’s car after his arrest.

Cekic with the Emmy award during a CBS 2 newscast.

Cekic with the Emmy award during a CBS 2 newscast in November.

Back in November, we told you about Ismael Cekic, a Bensonhurst man who came across a 60-year-old Emmy Award poking out of someone’s curbside trash.

Cekic turned to the media to help find the original owner, but to no avail.

Now the 40-year-old Cekic is giving up the search, and hoping to sell the statue to help fund a friend’s independent film.

The Daily News reports:

“It’s a poor man’s dream,” [filmmaker friend Eric] Rivas said. “We found this thing in the garbage, and maybe it can turn out to be a plus for us.”

They hope to find an experienced auctioneer to handle the sale, though they haven’t finalized the details.

Rivas speculated that the golden hardware could bring $20,000 or more. One caller had offered to buy it for $10,000, Cekic said.

“I figure it’s almost like a piece of New York folk art,” Cekic said. “It’s been through so many hands.”

The movie Rivas, a Midwood resident, is looking to fund with the help of Cekic and his find is Vamp Bikers 2, which is in the final stages of production.

From the trailer for the film, below, you can see they’re trying to trade up. Sell the Emmy, get an Oscar, right?

Sheepshead Bay’s Randazzo’s after the flood.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced over the weekend that Build it Back payments were finally in the mail, and that some construction projects are now underway. The city’s new director of Housing Recovery, Amy Peterson, elaborated on the numbers at a hearing on Monday, saying only $100,000 in reimbursement checks have been mailed, and only six construction projects have begun.

That’s out of 20,000 applications.

The numbers came out during a hearing of the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, headed by Councilman Mark Treyger. The seven-hour long hearing was spent blasting the program, for which even its new leadership agreed needs a jumpstart.

Metro reports:

The city’s new Director of Housing Recovery Amy Peterson admitted to the Build it Back’s blunders and “overly complicated” process but promised to turn it around.

“Early missteps, unrealistic assumptions and overly complicated processes have hindered rebuilding,” she testified to the Council.

Peterson, who started her tenure on Monday as well, vowed to make up for the setbacks.

“We’re going to make sure the money gets out to people,” she said.

Peterson added that another $800,000 worth of checks will be mailed this week.

Treyger and others used the opportunity of the first public hearing on Build it Back to detail the program’s shortcomings.

“Poor communication, endless bureaucracy, inadequate resources, and other problems have thwarted the building of even a single home,” he said, according to Brooklyn Daily.

The new chief attributed the problems to a lack of resources, and burdensome bureaucracy, according to the Daily report.

“This process includes multiple different steps in which customers interface with variety of different contractors and specialists,” she said. “From a process standpoint, the continued passing of responsibility from one contractor to another has had the effect of diminishing accountability.”

… Other problems were the result of federal requirements, Peterson said. The program was designed to not repeat the sins of past disaster relief programs, which were rife with contractor fraud and shoddy construction.

“The intent was for clients of the program to feel assured that construction would be done correctly, to the resilient building standards, and that they would bear no risk that funds would be reclaimed or extorted,” she said.

The Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association, at their meeting last night, said that after a long silence neighbors have started receiving calls from the program. Officials are setting up appointments to discuss the options for which the victims qualify, and compensation packages are being drawn up.

But the group also said that too many questions about the process remain unanswered.

“There are still a lot of things we don’t know about it,” said civic president Kathy Flynn. “We’re getting a lot of questions … we don’t have the answers. And every time they send out another e-mail,” it seems the terms have changed.

Flynn said that although the signs of movement are positive, she’s not optimistic.

“I’m not counting on them to give me anything. If I count on it, it’ll be another five years. Or forever,” she said.


This overflowing trash can was taken near Seth Low Park on the Bay Parkway side.
Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

The trash of  Bensonhurst has become something of an unwanted neighbor over the last few years. Last year the Department of Sanitation issued fewer  tickets to residents who illegally dump their home trash in the public bins than in previous years. Around that same time, Bensonhurst Bean reader Carmela sent us disgusting pictures of trash on Bay Parkway and 67th Street, near the N train. The Bean has taken another look at Bay Parkway’s trash problem and, not surprisingly, we’ve found the situation hasn’t improved.


Someone must’ve been thirsty with all those empty water jugs on the corner of 70th Street and Bay Parkway.
At least they’re not piss jugs.

Not only do you get natural sunlight here but you can actually see a sliver of the sky. (Source: Rapid Realty)

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Three Bedroom Condo in Gravesend
Price: $2,200
Location: West 6th Street  and Avenue V
Description: Located on the top floor, this condo gets sunlight in the apartment (unless of course the pictures they put up aren’t actually for the apartment listing but realtors never do that, right?). There are also two bathrooms as well as a balcony and roof access.
Contact: Peter, Rapid Realty, (646) 778-2260

One Bedroom Apartment in Private Home in Bath Beach
Price: $1,000
Location: 1295 Shore Parkway
Description: With a (possibly fake) plant and a (possibly used) shower curtain, this apartment has all the necessary amenities for the good (read: mediocre) life. The apartment is located on the first floor of a two-family home and the walls have all been renovated.
Contact: Margaret Calarco, Coldwell Banker, (917) 282-5635

Three Bedrooms in Bensonhurst/Borough Park
Price: $1,800
Location: 64th Street and 24th Avenue
Description: The kitchen has a built in counter that could pass for a bar-top if you’re a alcoholic real estate blogger thirsty person. Based on the pictures, you can see some trees out of one of the windows instead of the usual brick wall in your face. In one of the other pictures a woman holds up an iPad mini as though she fished it from the back of the stove. Maybe there are more where those came from? Bonus points!
Contact: Mina Moller, Anchor Associates, (347) 366-1990

One Bedroom in Bensonhurst
Price: $1,200
Location: 1970 72nd Street
Description: Not only is the kitchen here large, but it is also modern. Based on the pictures, this boast seems to come from the fact that there is a magic white little object that sends radiates beams of energy through your food. This awesome device is otherwise known as the microwave and there was a point in history when it was considered to be the ultimate in modernity. Personally, I don’t think homes should be called “modern” unless they have a house-wide operating system that speaks in the sexy, sultry voice of one Scarlett Johansson. But, then, too many people would try to make love to that house and it’d be pretty awful.
Contact: Daniel Gallogly, Patricia Basile Realty, (718) 449-0505

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

NYPD handout showing the suspect.

NYPD handout showing the suspect.

Police are turning to the public for help as they hunt a man who broke into two homes on 62nd Street near 18th Avenue, stealing cash – and a bundt cake.

The burglaries occurred on Saturday, March 22, between 4:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., according to a New York Post blotter report. He made off with a total of $100 from two houses.

He tried, unsuccessfully, to enter three other homes on the same block.

News 12 adds that the burglar also found a freshly baked bundt cake in one of the homes, and took it for a late-night snack.

Security cameras caught a clear image of the suspect as he lurked around the homes, and at one point he even looked directly into the camera.

He is described as a black male, approximately 6-feet-tall, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, and blue baseball cap.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

The Trump (Source: Google Maps)

Luna Park Houses (Source: Google Maps)

A 93-year-old survivor of the Holocaust died Monday morning after a fire ripped through his 15th floor apartment.

Lipa Briks, who fled Poland in the 1930s, was pulled unconscious from his burning apartment at the Luna Park complex at 2954 West 8th Street shortly after 1:15 a.m.

He was taken to Coney Island Hospital, where he died.

He lived alone inside the apartment.

Fire marshals said yesterday that the blaze was caused by faulty electrical wiring.

“He escaped the Nazis, he escaped the Soviet army, he escaped an anti-Semitic Polish regime, but he couldn’t escape the fire,” Briks’ friend and neighbor Michael Bar told the Daily News. “He was the only one in his very large family to survive the Holocaust.”


Vision ZeroThe Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic-related fatalities has been met with mixed reviews in car-dependent neighborhoods like those in Southern Brooklyn. Many applaud the city’s intention, but share concerns that it will unfairly penalize drivers.

Now there’s an opportunity to let legislators know how you feel about various elements of the plan, and where they can do better.

There will be a town hall meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street) on Tuesday, April 1, at 7 p.m., where Brooklyn residents are invited to discuss the action plan outlining how to eliminate traffic-related fatalities.

Among the initiative’s proposals is an increase in police enforcement for moving violations, implement speed and red-light cameras and reduce the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour. The plan also calls for closer scrutiny of accidents that result in critical injuries or death, and to re-engineer street designs to make them safer for pedestrians. You can see a more complete list of the Vision Zero proposals here.

Local pols have pushed for the opportunity to give voice to residents, hoping to collaborate on the implementation of proposals rather than have them handed down from up high.

“Nobody knows the streets in your community better than you do,” said Councilmember Chaim Deutsch in a press release. “This town hall meeting will give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and speak out on potentially dangerous traffic locations.”

According to his release:

Community members who attend the meeting will be provided the opportunity to point out specific problem locations throughout the borough where they perceive hazards or additional safety concerns to exist. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other city council members representing Brooklyn neighborhoods will also be in attendance.


Source: MTAPhotos/Flickr


From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound N trains skip 30 Av, Broadway, 36 Av, and 39 Av.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N.


From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound F trains make local stops at 36 St, Steinway St, 46 St, Northern Blvd, and 65 St.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Avenue X and Coney Island.
  • To continue your trip, transfer at Avenue X.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound F trains skip Avenue U.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, F trains run every 20 minutes between Avenue X and Coney Island.

Excelsior Yacht Club, as seen from above. (Source: Google Maps)

Excelsior Yacht Club, as seen from above. (Source: Google Maps)

A baby shower at Bath Beach’s Excelsior Yacht Club ended with violence after a gunman opened fire, sending at least two people to the hospital on Saturday night.

Cops were called to the yacht club, at 1902 Shore Parkway, adjacent to Calvert Vaux Park, at approximately 11:00 p.m.

The Daily News reports on the grisly scene:

“There was a shooting,” one woman confirmed as she and other guests packed unopened shower gifts into an awaiting livery cab.

A stream of blood ran into the street next to colorfully wrapped presents, one with a teddy bear peeking out, and a package of diapers. Officials said a man was shot in the arm.

The paper reports that one of the two hospitalized victims sought medical treatment for a gunshot wound. News 12 reports that he was a 23-year-old man, wounded on his elbow. He is expected to recover.

The other person to seek medical attention was a woman who had difficulty breathing.

The shooter was still at large on Sunday, according to the Daily News.