A recent string of robberies in Brooklyn has left small business owners feeling worried, scared, and vulnerable, as the suspect remains on the loose. Known as the “Fro-yo” and Ice Cream” Bandit, the suspect has robbed several businesses at gunpoint in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn, including a series of ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, some of which he hit up multiple times over the course of a month, police said.
“I couldn’t believe it happened,” said Maged Ali, 27, Manager of Landmark Newsstand and neighbor to Blue Marble Ice Cream parlor on Court Street, which was among the serial robber’s 12 targets. “I’m a little worried about it. I mean, it could happen to me.”
But the bandit didn’t have a craving for Blue Marble’s seasonal pumpkin pie flavor-of-the-month. Instead, he hungered for money, stealing a total of $1.600 during his first four robberies, police said.
On October 22nd, Ali said, he got off his shift and was waiting outside his shop for his brother to pick him up. He remembers seeing the suspect standing outside of Blue Marble before the robbery occurred. But Ali did not realize that the man, who was wearing a black Yankees baseball hat, was the robber, and no screams or sounds were heard from the ice cream parlor. When Ali saw the thief, Ali theorizes, he may have been waiting for a time when the shop was empty of customers, as it was when he eventually barged in and demanded money.
Locals agree that Cobble Hill’s high-end boutiques, gourmet restaurants, specialty shops and ritzy crowd were exactly the kind of jackpot the thief was looking for, leaving many storeowners and employees in the area now feeling vulnerable.
“If they come with a gun, you put your hands up, and that’s it,” said Ali. “You can’t do anything about it.”
The slew of robberies started October 17th, when the suspect held up a Tasti-D-Lite on 339 7 Avenue, with his latest theft occurring on Monday, November 5, when the suspect demanded money at a movie theatre on 400 East 62 Street, police said. Many stores and storeowners are taking extra precautions to protect themselves against a fro-yo bandit attack.
“We started locking our door now when we close,” said Zoey Sachs, 25, manager of Cobblestone Foods, which sits across the street from Blue Marble. “Even though were in a nice area, you can get hit up anywhere.”
Others like Nicole Young, employee Blue Marble’s next-door neighbor, Nectar, said that they have an emergency button fixed behind the counter, which they can press if there is a a robbery or any other kind of danger.
Blue Marble sits nestled between a local juice bar and a children’s boutique. The 100-square foot space fits only a couple customers at a time and its tiny front window makes it hard to see inside. This deadly combination creates the perfect place for an inconspicuous robbery to occur.
“I think that’s what makes [Blue Marble] a good place to go,” Sachs said of the “hole-in-the-wall” ice cream parlor.
Police said the suspect is a black male in his 40’s or 50’s with black hair and brown eyes, and that he was last seen wearing jeans and a black leather jacket.
On Monday, the area around Blue Marble Ice Cream was swarming with NYPD and undercover cops, who are hoping to catch the suspect soon.
“It’s good to know that the police are lurking,” said Sachs.