LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — A homeless man accused of committing 18 knifepoint robberies, and two others arrested for their alleged participation in at least one, were stealing money from local businesses in order to fuel their heroin addiction, two local police commissioners said Tuesday.
Business owners across Nassau and Suffolk counties have lived in fear since February, when a string of armed robberies first hit the area.
In that robbery and the 17 that followed, the suspect was described as lurking about with a large knife or machete.
Immediately following the most recent robbery, a Carvel on New York Avenue in Huntington Station in Suffolk County late Monday, three people were arrested.
They were identified by police Tuesday as Shane Cashmore, 30, homeless; Paul Drab, 26, of Levittown; and Julianna Pantaleone, 31, also of Levittown.
“There’s also evidence that these individuals were suffering from a substance abuse disorder, and were likely committing robberies to fuel their addiction,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini said.
Nassau County’s commissioner described their apparent addiction more bluntly:
“At the time of the arrest, Julia Pantaleone was getting ready to inject heroin. So you can understand just how persistent the heroin problem is here on Long Island,” Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
Cashmore has been accused of being the armed robber in all 18 instances; he has so far been charged with first-degree robbery in the following:
- Monday evening’s Carvel robbery
- The Barn, located at 370 Hawkins Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma, on April 30
- Baskin Robbins, located at 4597 Sunrise Highway, Bohemia, on April 19
- Subway, located at 600 Portion Road, Holbrook, on April 18
- The Barn, located at 10 Belmont Ave., West Babylon, on April 11
- Carvel, located at 290 Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma, on April 1
- Subway, located at 1195 Sunrise Highway, Copiague, on March 20
- Carvel, located at 1075 Montauk Highway, Copiague, on February 13
Drab and Pantaloon are so far charged with first-degree robbery in the Carvel robbery.
Both Sini and Krumpter praised police in both counties for their joint efforts, and conducting a "model" investigation.
"Two different police departments working as one, one unit, in order to bring this case to a close,” Krumpter said.