Tick, tick, tick…. That’s the sound that may lead police to the burglar who ransacked Lesley Stahl’s Upper West Side penthouse last Friday, and made off with, among other things, a Bulova watch commemorating the CBS reporter’s weekly series, 60 Minutes.
At 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 25, a burglar entered the apartment of the longtime 60 Minutes correspondent, located off Central Park West in the West 70s. In minutes, the thief snatched the Bulova, another diamond watch, a ruby and gold antique bracelet, a string of pearls and a diamond broach.
According to a police report filed with the 20th precinct, a woman identified as an employee of Stahl’s had cleaned the master bedroom earlier that morning. (Stahl was not home at the time of the burglary; her office told West Side Spirit that the reporter was traveling last week on assignment for the show.) Later, Stahl’s husband, the journalist/novelist Aaron Latham, let two contractors into the bedroom and left them there.
A third contractor, who was working on the roof—which can be reached through a door in the master bedroom—noticed the door to the bedroom was open, and peeked in. It had been, in the words of the police report, “ransacked.”
The contractor then notified the female employee, who tried to return to the room, through the apartment, only to find the door blocked by a chair. So the roof contractor climbed into the master bedroom and let her in.
Today the apartment building is sheathed in scaffolding, as it has been for months. Workers coming out of the building on the morning of Jan. 29 said that the company working on the outside of the building had nothing to do with the burglary. They suggested that the contractor who told the woman he was working on the roof was actually the thief.
“I heard there were two contractors that the owners were aware were supposed to be up there,” said a worker in the building from Graziano Construction based in Long Island, who declined to give his name. “There wasn’t supposed to be a third. That’s what the guy said he was, but that was the bad guy, that’s who they’re looking for.”
Stahl did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and a CBS News spokesman also didn’t respond to an email. Police said it appeared as though Stahl was doing general renovations on the apartment because of the multiple contractors involved, but this could not be confirmed.
Stahl, 66, became a television reporter after a brief stint as a speechwriter for New York City Mayor John Lindsay. She eventually landed at CBS News and achieved fame as Washington correspondent covering the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. In 1983, she became the host of CBS’s Face the Nation. In 1991, she moved to New York City and joined the staff of 60 Minutes.
*This story originally appeared in the Jan. 31 edition of our sister publication, the West Side Spirit.