A regular customer at a gourmet kosher store on Coney Island Avenue made a business out of swiping high-end cheeses and then reselling them to nearby Midwood stores — until the plan curdled and crumbled right in front of him, police say.
Detectives arrested Steven Schwartz on Feb. 9 for allegedly raiding the dairy aisle at Pomegranate three times in one week — crimes he would commit while nodding hello to store employees who knew him. “He’d come in almost every day — for the last three years,” Pomegranate employee Joel Eidliz explained. “Everybody knew his face, so nobody thought he [would steal from us]!”
But it was Schwartz’s familiarity with the supermarket near Avenue L that helped him fool the staff into repeatedly selling him more than $250 worth of high-priced cheeses for under $20 — or the cost of two gallons of carefully positioned milk, investigators alleged.
Eidliz said the curd coveter would fill up one crate with expensive feta, goat and assorted sliced cheeses and another with milk. Before reaching the checkout line, he would put his milk crate above the one laden with cheese and never reveal — or purchase — the valuable contents hidden underneath. Schwartz would then turn the cheddar into cheddar: he would pawn the cheeses at neighboring businesses along Coney Island Avenue, local merchants said.
“He would come around here,” said an employee at the Kosher Bagel Hole on Coney Island Avenue, who would only identify himself as Josh. Schwartz would come in claiming to have a great deal on food, but Josh said he never took him up on his offer. “Every once in awhile someone [like Schwartz] comes around and says, ‘I can beat [the other company’s] prices,’ but we always stick to our products,” Josh said.
It’s unclear just how long Schwartz was preying on Pomegranate, but the con came to an end when workers monitoring store surveillance cameras finally spotted the dairy devil at work. Detectives from the 70th Precinct were alerted and a warrant for Schwartz’s arrest was issued — a warrant executed sooner than you can say “cheese”: police arrested Schwartz at his next visit to Pomegranate, charging him with multiple counts of petit larceny.
But even cops were stunned by Schwartz’s cheese-snatching activities. “A crate of cheese every time?” a surprised NYPD spokesman asked us after learning of Schwartz’s arrest. “You can’t make this stuff up!”