Police Say Criminals Are Out In Force This Time Of Year

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – As the holiday shopping season gets under way, a brazen robbery at a Westchester big box store has some consumers on edge.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the incident serves as a warning to shoppers to stay alert while making those big holiday purchases.

The gunpoint robbery took place in the Costco parking lot in New Rochelle on Saturday.

The three victims were busy thinking about things like the season and the items in their cart, but seemed to have forgotten one important rule of the season, Young reported.

“While you are out and about, there are other people observing you,” shopper Agnes Bernard said.

Police said criminals are out in force this time of year.

“People that are inclined to this sort of criminal activity know that people are carrying more property with them, more expensive property, gifts, things of that nature,” Capt. Joseph Schaller with the New Rochelle Police Department told Young.

In Saturday’s incident, it was a piece of expensive jewelry the robbers could see that told them their marks might have a lot of money. So police said the suspects started watching their victims first at a shopping center in Co-Op City in the Bronx, then to the Costco in New Rochelle.

Police said the robbers watched their victims go inside, waited for them to come out and then made their move.

The suspects took their victims’ wallets and jewelry, Young reported.

One man was arrested nearby, but police say an accomplice got away.

Police and savvy shoppers say there are ways to keep yourself safer.

“I take a few steps just to be careful that I’ve zipped my wallet or I’m holding my bag tightly,” shopper Jeanie Merwin told Young.

“I teach my family that if you have expensive items, put it on the floor, cover it up, do something. Don’t put candy in front of a baby,” shopper Dwight McCloud added.

“Half the time, they’ll leave their purse in the cart and next thing, everything is gone,” Maxine Brown told Young.

“You pay a little more attention to things and you’re a little more careful, and that’s all you can do. Somebody pulls a gun in your face, hey, you’re stuck with it,” John Dinelli said.

Police say it’s best to stay off the robber’s radar to begin with.

Police have not recovered a weapon, but said they hope to make an additional arrest soon.

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