On the afternoon of December 3rd, two men, Jesus Muñoz, 38, and Joseph Cartagena, 21, found a 2008 beige and gold Lexus parked on West 81st Street with the keys inside. But instead of counting their blessings and using their new-found wheels for a road trip to Dollywood like sensible people, they decided to cash in. According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Post, the Lexus belonged to Richard Grausman, 71, a notable chef and culinary educator who reported the car stolen that same day. But police wouldn't have to look to hard for it, because the alleged thieves called Grasuman themselves.

On December 6th, a man phoned Grausman claiming that "his friend" had sold him the Lexus for $3,000; all he wanted was to sell Grausman back the car for the same price. He would call the next day to arrange a meeting, but overnight the car was towed! Being a nice guy, the man offered to drop by Grausman's Upper West Side apartment to return the car's keys, and that's where detectives arrested them, finding a plastic tube containing cocaine residue in Muñoz's jacket pocket.

Cartagena told cops he had nothing to do with the theft, that it was all Muñoz's doing, and he was just trying to make things right: "I asked him where he got the ride. My boy says, 'I stole it.' I said, 'But you got the keys.' He said, 'Yeah, it was in the car. I just rolled it off.' I said I got a conscience, why are you stealing these cars at Christmas? I talked my boy into calling the owner to give them the car back. I didn't know he was going for money." The two are charged with criminal possession of stolen property and coercion, plus first degree idiocy. Grausman deserves a slap on the wrist too, for leaving the keys in his Lexus.