A real-life Grinch broke into actor Robert De Niro’s Upper East Side home early Monday morning and tried to steal gifts from under his Christmas tree, police said.
The legendary performer came rushing down to the second floor of his townhouse to find police arresting 30-year-old Shanice Aviles. She was allegedly grabbing presents from under De Niro’s tree and had fiddled around with his iPad, according to cops.
Police officers from the 19th Precinct’s Public Safety Team had earlier spotted Aviles, whom they knew from previous incidents, walking the streets of the Upper East Side looking for a store to burglarize, police said.
Aviles, a suspect in five recent burglaries, slipped out of their view at about 2:45 am and went down a stairwell leading to De Niro’s townhouse on E. 65th St. near Park Ave.
The cops stayed back, not yet sure if she had committed a crime. But after a short time, they went into De Niro’s home and arrested her.
Police believe she was unaware the home belonged to De Niro, who has lit up the silver screen for more than 50 years including star turns in “Godfather II,” “Goodfellas” and “The Irishman.”
De Niro spokesperson Stan Rosenfeld described the townhouse as the actor’s “temporary rental home” and declined further comment.
Hours later, the star came out of the townhouse and got into a waiting SUV.
“Happy holidays,” De Niro said to waiting reporters who asked him what happened.
“You can read about it in the paper,” he said.
He added that he was feeling OK.
Earlier, with reporters and onlookers gathered outside the townhouse Monday afternoon, a locksmith showed up to change the locks and lunch deliveries were made from Dominique Ansel Baker and Nobu. De Niro co-founded the first Nobu in 1994.
After coming downstairs to investigate what was going on, De Niro did not interact with the crook, police sources told The News.
Aviles was arrested for burglary, a crime for which bail cannot be set for a first offense — although judges do sometimes have the ability to set bail after multiple burglary arrests.
She has 32 prior arrests, 20 of them for felonies, sources said. This year alone, Aviles has 17 arrests in Manhattan and Queens, where she is being eyed in a string of burglaries under investigation by the 114th Precinct in Astoria.
“You can’t tell me bail reform isn’t an issue when you have a repeat offender like this woman constantly arrested, then let go,” a police source said. “At some point, you have to say, ‘Why is she not behind bars?'”
Aviles’ most recent arrest, on Dec. 13, was for two Queens crimes.
She allegedly stole about $1,000 from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Dutch Kills on Oct. 23 and ransacked an Astoria apartment on Oct. 1, stealing a debit card she later used to spend more than $50 at a 7-Eleven, according to court papers.
At her arraignment for that arrest, Aviles was let go under terms of supervised release.
Earlier this month, on Dec. 8, Aviles was busted for six other Manhattan burglaries.
She was ordered held on $5,000 bail for three of the crimes — stealing a cash register iPhone and cosmetic facial kits from a shop on E. 26th St., stealing money from a Second Ave. address and using a crowbar to break into a restaurant, also on Second Ave.
But on Dec. 13, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, a court order allowed her to instead go for substance abuse rehab. Two days later, she failed to appear in court.
Prior to that, Aviles was busted in Oct. 11 for three other thefts, all on E. 70th St., then let go on supervised release.
On Oct. 11, she broke into another apartment and took a wallet and keys from a nightstand but when the 68-year-old tenant woke up, he went to the kitchen and saw Aviles hiding by the refrigerator, according to court papers. They scuffled and he stabbed Aviles in the left thigh.
The Daily News Flash
Catch up on the day’s top five stories every weekday afternoon.
On Oct. 3, Aviles allegedly broke into an 81-year-old woman’s apartment and made off with a bag, $200 in cash, a ring and other items. The victim told police she woke up and saw the thief walking in through her front door — but was so scared she stayed in bed and watched as the suspect robbed her, according to the complaint.
She allegedly stole about $2,000 worth of coupons from a community center on Aug. 19.
Police have also visited an address associated with Aviles in East Harlem numerous times for domestic incidents involving a child and an uncle whom she often fought with, police sources said.
In September 2014, cops responding to the apartment found a 2-year-old girl in the lobby of the building naked and alone. When they went up to the apartment, they found the filthy home covered in roaches and flies.
State child abuse authorities were notified after the discovery.
In Sept. 2017, police were again called to the apartment, where Aviles was suspected of physically abusing children while under the influence of medication, sources said.
With Ellen Moynihan and Elizabeth Keogh