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NYC police arrest wheelchair bandit

by NATE SCHWEBER New York Times News Service on September 22, 2013 1:30 AM

NEW YORK — A man in a wheelchair believed to have stolen purses and wallets as he made his way through Midtown restaurants, bars and hotels has been arrested, the police said Saturday.

Matias Moreno-Boza, 25, of Perth Amboy, N.J., was taken into custody at the Midtown North station house on West 54th Street on Friday night.

He was charged with four counts of grand larceny, according to the police. The thefts all occurred in the past month.

Moreno-Boza is accused of snatching billfolds and purses containing cash, credit cards, a necklace and an iPad. The thief struck inside the Japanese restaurant Nobu 57, the Cuban restaurant Havana N.Y., the Spanish restaurant Txikito and inside the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, the police said.

On Thursday, the police released photos of the thief, a man pushing himself in a chair with silver wheels.

Moreno-Boza was in a wheelchair at his arraignment Saturday afternoon in Manhattan Criminal Court. He said in Spanish that he was “muy preocupado,” very worried. He said that he had been using a wheelchair for five years, since an “incident.”

A woman who answered the phone at Moreno-Boza’s address in Perth Amboy said he had told her he was a student. A friend of hers, Albert DeGracia, said that Moreno-Boza had rented a room in the home only for the past month, and had said he was on government assistance.

DeGracia said that Moreno-Boza would leave during the day to travel to Manhattan and not return until 3 a.m.

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