NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Women in Queens are on edge as police search for a suspect who they say grabs women in a bear hug and then threatens them with a sharp object before robbing them.
Police said the suspect has gone after three women in less than two weeks in Kew Gardens and Forest Hills.
The first attack happened just after midnight on Feb. 11 near Lefferts and Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens, police said.
The next day, he struck again around Continental Avenue and Dartmouth Street in Forest Hills.
The most recent incident happened Wednesday on Austin Street.
Police said in two of the attacks, the suspect locked his victims in a bear hug. In one attack, he pushed a woman up against a fence, police said.
In all three incidents, police said he then threatened the women with a box-cutter or other sharp object before taking their purses. Twice, he left the scene in a dark-colored car, police said.
“It’s scary, you don’t know if he’s going to cut you after you give him money,” Forest Hills resident Andrea Ramirez told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang.
“It’s supposed to be a nice area,” Forest Hills resident Deanna Condino said. “They put something in our building saying there’s been robberies, it’s scary.”
All three robberies happened late at night, but many locals say they feel comfortable walking around at those hours because bars and some stores in Forest Hills are still open.
Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa lives close by and said women should be extra vigilant in so-called safe neighborhoods.
“The criminal is thinking why would I go into an area where women are on guard,” Sliwa said.
Police said the suspect and the car were seen on surveillance video from the incident on Wednesday.
Anyone with information was asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.
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