Elderly cat burglar bluffed his way past NYC doormen for years; cops shocked by his age

Who said old age has to slow you down?

After years of chasing him, police finally took the “July Fourth Burglar” into custody, an 82-year-old man who had been bluffing his way past doormen at Upper East Side apartment buildings in New York City and then stealing pricey jewels and heirlooms. His nickname refers to the weekend of the year he prefers to steal, as well as his birthday.

(Stock photo from Getty Images)

“I thought it was a joke when he told me,” Det. Kevin Gieras of the 19th Precinct told NY Daily News about learning of the burglar’s nickname. He had been tracking the “July Fourth Burglar” since 2014.

The burglar’s real name is Samuel Sabatino. He has burglary convictions dating back to 1977 and multiple holiday weekend robberies this year netted him around $139,000.

Sabatino served two prison sentences in New York. One was in 1977 for attempted robbery and the other for burglary in 1994. He is also facing charges for a burglary indictment in 2011 and bail jumping in 2004.

“This guy would come in on holiday weekends throughout the summer … and he would prey on people that were away throughout the weekend,” Gieras said. “He would gain access to the buildings because he looks the part … The guy’s 82 years old. You would never think somebody of this age would be doing something like this.”

Sabatino found his way around doormen because many would not even give him a second glance, considering his age. He would also walk into buildings with groups of people to remain undetected.

“They didn’t even look twice at this guy,” Gieras said.

One complaint actually claims Sabatino charmed his way out of being caught at one point. In July of this year, he knocked on a door to an apartment he was going to rob in the E. 68th St. building. When someone surprisingly answered, the thief simply answered, “I think I am on the wrong floor.”

Charm, however, did not get him out of an arrest.

When a doorman did not recognize the man at a building on Third Ave. at 91st St. Sabatino said he was there to visit his cousin, but he must have the wrong building. Police were already following Sabatino though.

“We were following him around,” Gieras said. “We saw him enter a building on the Upper East Side. After exiting, he was apprehended.”

Also working against Sabatino is that he was reportedly pictured on a nanny-cam at one of the homes he robbed.

Check that image out below:

(Screengrab from YouTube/NBC New York)

The detective said the thief is the oldest person he has ever had to arrest in his 20 years on the job.

“I knew from video and photos and following this case for years, I knew he was an older gentleman,” Gieras said. “It was just nice to bring closure, to stop this and prevent this from happening.”


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