QUEENS (PIX11) — A brazen robber has targeted smoke shops and bodegas in Astoria, College Point and Elmhurst, police said Thursday.
The NYPD released video and a picture of the man they say robbed or attempted to rob six locations since Oct. 27, 2022. PIX11 News obtained additional security video of the suspect in action at VDK Groceries on College Point Boulevard in College Point.
The victim in that robbery, Danny Patel, told PIX11 News, the same man has struck three times in a month.
“I’m going to kill you. Don’t move. I have a gun in my back pocket,” the man told Patel during the first robbery.
Police say the suspect stole $700 from behind the sales counter. Patel says the man came back two more times, but was scared off.
The other locations where the suspect struck are Peter’s Deli on College Point Boulevard on Oct. 29, N & N Grocery on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria on Nov. 15, Smoke Shop & Grocery on 21st Avenue in Astoria on Nov. 19, and Convenience Smoke Shop on Roosevelt Avenue in Elmhurst on Sunday, Nov. 20.
At Peter’s Deli, a woman who didn’t want to be identified tells PIX 11 News, she was there as the boss grabbed scissors and scared off the suspect.
“He’s defending himself,” she said. “Who knows what he wants to do, who knows is he going to kill someone?”
Fernando Mateo, the spokesman for the United Bodegas of America, said his organization has a small relief fund to help bodega owners with some of their losses. However, Mateo told PIX11,
“We’re a band-aid, what we look forward is working with PD and getting these people arrested, and hoping the district attorneys will prosecute these types of crimes.”
Victims can reach out to the United Bodegas of America by calling (929) 300-3180 or emailing Info@unitedbodegasofamerica.com.
Police ask you call Crime Stoppers if you recognize the suspect in the photo and videos.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).