NEW YORK — The men behind a citywide robbery spree have gotten away with $21,000 in the last two months.
And now, CBS2’s Tim McNicholas has learned the vast majority of the victims have something in common.
Police say at least two men are behind 21 armed robberies during the spree, and of those stores targeted, 16 have been smoke or vape shops.
CBS2 showed a surveillance photo released by NYPD on Sunday to a smoke shop worker.
“Yeah, this is the guy,” the worker said.
He immediately recognized the suspect and said he’s the same man who robbed him, adding the man flashed a gun, demanded cash, and took more than $100 from the register.
The victim asked CBS2 not to share his name, face or store because he’s afraid the robber might retaliate.
“It’s crazy. You just work like 10, eight hours and somebody just came, take the money and left,” the worker said.
Despite his fear, he said he is so frustrated he wanted to speak up to spread the word.
Police say at least two men are connected to the robberies in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
“I hope they catch him,” the worker said.
NYPD sources told McNicholas as CBD oils and vape sales are becoming more prevalent, so are smoke shop robberies. Last month, masked robbers, one with a rifle, held up an Ozone Park smoke shop for $3,000. Police don’t believe that is related to the pattern of 21 robberies announced Sunday.
The worker said the robber at his store was after more than just cash.
“He just ask me for some weed and I tell him we don’t have. After that, he just like went like this and he showed me … the gun,” he said.
And police say the pattern of robberies started in August. The most recent one was a week ago.