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Hunt For ‘One-Man Wrecking Crew’ Burglary Suspect Continues After Possible 17th Robbery In Pattern

Sledgehammer burglar

The NYPD believes this is the man wanted for more than two-dozen violent robberies in Harlem. He apparently uses a sledgehammer to literally smash and grab anything he wants. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are continuing to hunt for a so-called “one man wrecking crew” who knocked over 15 stores – and possibly as many 17 – despite what they hoped was a break in the case this morning.

That potential break in the case was another break-in.

The crook is armed with a sledgehammer and bashes through walls and ceilings of shops in the middle of renovation. Once inside, he simply takes what he wants. The thief is confirmed to have knocked over 15 spots, and the 17th robbery in the pattern may have occurred early this morning.

Police had to cut through security gates to get inside Jan’s Clothing Store early this morning, apparently the latest location to be hit. It appears the burglar smashed his way through ceiling tiles to gain entry.

It’s very similar to how “Shoeprints” store manager Adesh Maharajh says a burglar came into his shop: He bashed his way through a basement wall to get in.

“So he’s a thief that, everything that he knows valuable, where he knows that he can have access to make something, he’s going to take it,” store manager Maharajh told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman on Wednesday.

The suspect was caught on surveillance tape at least once. Police say he usually dismantles cameras once inside and then grabs whatever he can.

The Shoeprints and Jan’s robberies have not yet been officially linked to the pattern of 15 other robberies, but the method is very similar.

Ten of the 15 robberies linked to the pattern have taken place on 125th Street. All have been in Harlem and East Harlem.

There was some excitement this morning when police who were patrolling the area following the Jan’s break-in spotted a suspicious person, ordered him to stop, and the man took off running. That person ultimately wound up jumping into the East River but was subsequently arrested.

It turns out that while that person was trying to get away from the police, he’s not believed to be the suspect in the robbery pattern.

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