Residents of Belmont are on edge after two brazen daytime home invasion muggings near Arthur Avenue last month, especially senior citizens like Rose Campbell, a resident of Mount Carmel Senior Center.
“We are very much afraid,” Campbell said at an Monday, August 29 press conference.
On August 12, a 91-year-old woman entered her home to find an intruder already inside her living room. The assailant yanked a chain containing a crucifix off of her neck and her wedding ring off her finger
Then, on August 21, an 81-year-old woman was followed into her home by a suspect police believe to be the same man.
The man threw her to the ground and kicked her several times before stealing a gold necklace with the phrase “#1 Grandma” and several charms off her neck.
Councilman Ritchie Torres, who organized the event outside the center, askied for the public’s help in locating the individual responsible for the two assaults.
“As far as we’re concerned, perpetrators of violence against senior citizens represent the scum of the earth,” Torres said. “And we cannot afford to have assailants against senior citizens roam freely in our neighborhood.”
Two police photos displayed by Torres show a suspect who appears to be a tall, thin, light-skinned adult male with short black facial hair and tattoos on his lower arms.
Both photos show the man wearing a V-neck white undershirt and what appears to be black Brooklyn Nets baseball cap.
Torres said that one of the victims had failed to lock the door of her home, and advised all residents to keep their doors locked at all times.
He also urged residents to travel in groups and recommended using the U.S. Post Office to mail items as opposed to using neighborhood mailbox centers, which he said are more vulnerable to identity theft.
New Community Board 6 district manager John Sanchez said the senior attacks were particularly troubling since 6,000 of his residents are over the age of 65 and often have more responsibilities than typical American seniors.
“A thousand grandparents in our district are primary caretakers of the children in their household,” Sanchez said. “Not only are grandparents at risk, but the caretakers of our children.”
Campbell said she and other neighborhood seniors are taking every precaution to avoid becoming a victim.
“Our center has been taking us by bus for our shopping and making sure we get upstairs safe,” she told reporters.
Both victims attend nearby Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, and Campbell said there was a suspicion the assailant may either be a member of the church or is following them home.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the NYPD tipline at 1-800-577-8477(TIPS) with any information they may have about the suspect.