NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Police in Queens are on the hunt for three men and a woman wanted in connection with three armed robberies in Jamaica Estates.
Many in the community were stunned by the brazen string of crimes in which the female victims — in their 50′s and 60′s — were pushed into cars, and in one case into a trunk. In two of the incidents, women were held hostage as the armed thieves took their ATM cards and went to make withdrawals.
The attacks happened just steps from the home of resident Josette Kernizan.
“It’s kind of a surprise to me. I feel very safe around here, but that was a shock,” Kernizan told CBS 2′s John Metaxas.
The latest incident occurred Friday when police said two black male suspects approached a 68-year-old woman and pushed the victim into her car. The suspects fled the scene in a dark-colored sedan after the woman screamed, police said.
“It’s crazy. It’s scary, it’s scary,” one frightened resident said.
Police released a sketch of one of the men they believe is part of an armed gang targeting women in the area. They also believe that a another woman, captured on surveillance video, may be a part of the plot.
All of the incidents occurred on quiet residential streets and happened when the women were either getting into or out of their vehicles.
While many people instinctively know they should be aware, self defense expert Gabrielle Rubin explained that there were basic ways to protect oneself.
“Anytime you’re approaching your car, try not to use your key fob until you are at your car,” she said.
Rubin also suggested using some simple tools like a L.E.D. light to momentarily blind an attacker. She also said if grabbed, the potential victim could fight back by throwing a jab with their elbow or poking them “in the eye or even in the throat.”
With the thieves still on the loose, people in the community said they could not be too careful.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers’ website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577.