Four conservatively dressed robbers rifled 73 of 110 safe-deposit boxes of an estimated total of several hundred thousand dollars in cash, jewels and other valuables before dawn yesterday after handcuffing the night manager and three other employees.
The robbery was the second in less than three years at the luxurious hotel on Fifth Avenue between 59th and 60th.
The style of the New York robbers is believed by the police to be patterned after the modus operandi of thieves who took more than $100,000 from deposit boxes at the Park House Hotel in Boston in 1972.
Yesterday’s crime was made easier for the robbers, police said, because no guests entered or left the lobby while they were opening the boxes with a steel punch and hammer between 4:30pm and 5:30am. The police were hampered in their investigation because all four thieves wore gloves and left no finger prints. Witnesses said two wore wigs and one a false mustache.
Robert Clancy, the night manager said one robber wearing a well-tailored and vested three piece suit came in and pointed a revolver at him and handcuffed him. Three other employees were also rounded up and handcuffed. A timekeeper saw them leave and called police. He said they looked suspicious.
Diana Ross was looted. She is here to film a movie with Michael Jackson, Richard Prior, Nipsey Russell and Ted Ross.
In the last five to six years similar robberies have taken place at the Drake, Pierre, Plaza, Regency, and the Sherry-Netherland a previous time, in 1974. Two well dressed gunmen looted the Pierre (up the street) for $2 million in cash and valuables.
Those robbed yesterday are facing losses because each box is insured for only $500.
excerpt from E. Perlmutter NYT 10/11/77