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Sunday, June 11, 2023

The New York City Bread Truck Heist

     The act of taking something that isn't yours, while against the law and anti-social, is not highly deviant behavior, nor is it commonly driven by mental illness. (For years psychologists and criminologists have been debating among themselves over whether so-called kleptomaniacs are sick or simply criminal.) Theft is a specific intent crime committed in cold-blood, as it were. Schizophrenics don't go around swindling people or stealing cars for chop shops. In court, accused thieves don't plead not guilty by reason of insanity. But in the case of a 30-year-old New York City man named David Bastar, that would change.

     On Monday, May 19, 2014, at three in the morning on Second Avenue near East 99th Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the driver of a Grimaldi's Home of Bread truck left the vehicle running in front of a pizzeria. When the delivery man exited the pizza joint, his truck was gone.

     David Bastar, dressed only in a pair of briefs, had jumped into the $60,000 truck and drove off with $8,000 worth of baguettes, whole wheat rolls, loaves of sourdough and other baked products. Instead of meeting up with a baked goods fence, Bastar, working off a set of instructions and a map left on the truck's front seat, delivered product to at least three restaurants.

     Later that morning, while driving the bread truck south on Lexington Avenue, Bastar began throwing loaves of bread out the window. As he crossed the 59th Street Bridge into Queens Bastar became fixated on a Cadillac Escalade limousine driven by 43-year-old Armondo Sigcha. Sigcha was headed to La Guardia Airport to pick up customers.

     Once the stolen bread truck and the limo crossed the bridge, Sigcha realized that some nut in a delivery truck was following him too closely. The limo driver made several quick evasive turns but couldn't get the truck off his tail. At this point Sagcha asked his dispatcher to arrange to have an officer with the Port Authority meet him at the airport.

     When Bastar pulled the bread truck to a stop behind the limousine near La Guardia's Central Terminal he was greeted by a Port Authority officer. The cop took one look at the underwear-clad bread truck driver and called for an ambulance to deliver him to a mental ward.

     After being evaluated at Elmhurst Hospital's Psychiatric Ward officers escorted Mr. Bastar to the Queens Criminal Court where he was charged with criminal possession of a stolen vehicle and driving without a license. The judge released the suspect to the custody of his baffled parents.

     Diana Bastar's, the accused truck thief's mother, told a reporter with The New York Post that she had no idea why her son had been bent on delivering bread. "I'm speechless," she said. "He's been estranged from us, so I really can't tell you what's going on."

     Following his arrest Mr. Bastar told police officers that he had tailed the limousine into Queens because, "I thought I had to follow him to make the deliveries."

     According to an Internet search it appears that Mr. Bastar was not prosecuted for stealing the truck. In all probability he received medical attention instead.

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