Seven Businesses Robbed in Central Queens

The Brothers Grocery  (Photo by Madeline Renbarger)

The Brothers Grocery was robbed in the early morning of April 15th (Photo by Madeline Renbarger)

Update April 28th, 1 p.m.: As of Wednesday morning, police say that two more businesses were robbed in connection with this pattern, raising the total to seven.  The robberies took place on Monday, April 26 at around 10:30 p.m., first at a laundromat at 84-11 Elmhurst Avenue, and on Tuesday April 27th at around 12:55 a.m. at a bodega located at 89-19 37th Avenue. In both cases the suspect slashed the victims’ hands with a knife before fleeing with cash. Both attendants received medical attention, according to police. The investigation is ongoing. 

Five bodegas in central Queens from Woodside to Elmhurst were robbed in the past two weeks in what police say is a robbery pattern.  Each of the incidents that took place within the 108th, 110th, and 115th precincts make reference to a young male suspect, who brandished a box cutter at each store clerk and then, police say, demanded that they give up their cash.

While most of the store clerks were uninjured, the robber did slash the hands of one victim at Brothers Grocery on Roosevelt Avenue. He refused medical attention after the attack, according to the police.  The suspect has been accused of stealing $4,860 in total, if these incidents are in fact connected.

The first robbery took place on April 7th at around 9:30 p.m. at New China Market at 90-24 Corona Avenue, while the second incident took place on April 10th at around 10 p.m. at New Woodside Grocery at 41-70 74th Street.

The market’s owner Sanjeev Wadhwa said robberies like these were not common in the area.

New Woodside Grocery was the second store robbed in what police are calling a patten of similar incidents in the area (Photo by Madeline Renbarger)

“I’ve been in this neighborhood for 14 years, it is very safe. This is unusual for sure.”

The third robbery, police said, took place a couple of days later on April 12th at 9:15 p.m. at Dosanjh Deli Grocery at 103-01 Astoria Blvd. The fourth occurred on April 16th at 12:05 a.m. when the robber entered Brothers Grocery at 68-10 Roosevelt Ave and demanded money. This incident remains the only robbery in which the perpetrator attacked the victim with the box cutter, according to police.

Girish Prajapati, the stocking clerk working that evening, said he did not see the attack, but called the police and helped his coworker after it happened. “Normally this never happens here,” he said, adding, “I’ll want to be staying in the back now at night.”

The fifth and most recent incident happened on April 19th at around 12:15 a.m. at Jazmina Grocery at 40-12 Hampton Street. The owners could not be reached by NY City Lens for comment.

Security footage and photos from some of the stores, released by police, show a man wearing a similar-looking dark hoodie and jeans. In some instances, he is seen standing outside the stores before entering.  The footage shows him threatening the store clerks and taking money from the registers.

Despite the severity of these incidents, robberies and related crimes have mostly dropped in these neighboring precincts over the past year to date. According to the NYPD’s own crime statistics records, robberies in the 108th and 110th precincts are down 15.6% and 36.8% respectively. However, robberies in the 115th precinct, which encompasses Jackson Heights. East Elmhurst, and North Corona, have increased by 23.5% over the past year. Calls to the precinct to comment on the increase were not returned.

The investigation is still considered “active and ongoing,” according to DCPI spokesman Sgt. Edward D. Riley. While they have not made any arrests, police request that the public report any useful information regarding these incidents through the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (1-800-577-8477) or the NYPD Crime Stoppers Web portal, or through the NYPD Crime Stoppers Twitter @NYPDtips.