By Bob Kappstatter
Cops are hunting a shotgun-toting bandit who’s been on a dangerous robbery spree around the east Bronx.
He’s hit three deli’s and a pizzeria in a ten-day period, with his last three stickups all on Sunday, Dec. 22.
Police said he walks into the stores, waves a shotgun at workers and customers, ordering a worker to open the cash register before ordering them to lay on the floor, herding them into a back room or in one case, into a walk-in freezer. He then scoops up the cash and flees in a car.
It’s unclear if he has a waiting getaway wheelman, or drives away himself.
Among other efforts, investigators are pouring over records of similar past robbery patterns and recent release records of inmates who may have committed similar crimes.
They are also askeding the public to help by providing any information they have. They are asked to call the Bronx Robbery Squad at 718 378-8301.
“We’d like to get any information from the public on this guy as soon as possible before this possibly escalates to someone getting hurt,” said one investigator.
The bandit is described as a male Hispanic, about 40 years old, 5-feet-7 to 5-feet-9 and weighing about 200 pounds.
Police gave this account of the bandit’s robbery spree:
He first struck at 7:20 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12 at the County Bay Pizza at 3233 Ampere Ave. in Spencer Estate. With two workers and a customer inside, he displayed a shotgun and ordered a worker to “Open the register, empty your pockets!”
He took about $1,000 from the register and some cash from the customer, then ordered the trio into the walk-in freezer before fleeing.
His robbery spree at three locations on Sunday, Dec. 22 began at 1:07 p.m. at the Zerega Deli at 1493 Zerega Ave. when he pulled a shotgun from a red duffel bag and demanded money from a worker and a customer. He ordered both to stay in the rear while he fled with about $900.
He next struck at 2:45 p.m. at Franks Place Deli at 1971 Bronxdale Ave. in Morris Park, again pulling a shotgun from the duffel bag and ordering two workers: “Give me all the money in the register. Put it in a paper bag!” Instead, he took the money from the register and ordered the victims to lay down at the back of the store before fleeing.
He last struck at 3:35 p.m. at Steve’s Deli at 1524 Mayflower Ave. in Middletown, taking $1,100 from the register and telling two workers to lay on the floor before he fled.
Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Klein said he is working with the 45th Precinct and local merchants on hosting a forum in January to discuss what local businesses can do to stay safe.
“Gun crimes not only make our streets unsafe for residents, but also for our local business owners. With the recent string of gun robberies, we need all hands on deck in making sure effective safety measures are in place to prevent this from happening in the future,” said Klein.