NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police had a warning for restaurant and bar customers on the Upper East and West sides Tuesday evening – hold onto your stuff.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, police were searching Tuesday night for two men who have been stealing from patrons. Police said they went into multiple establishments – often pretending to need to use the bathroom.
But instead, they stole property from customers, police said.
Many of the thefts happened in the area of First and Second avenues near 75th Street, police said. The suspects primarily targeted restaurants and bars, but also a hair removal service.
The thefts happened at the following times and locations going back to late March:
• Around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, March 3, a man at the Shalel Lounge, 658 W. 70th St., discovered that his wallet was gone. Soon afterward, he found out about unauthorized debit card activity in a cellphone notification from his bank, police said. The activity came from a McDonald’s at 2409 Broadway, police said. The man went to the McDonald’s and found the man using his credit card who ran off, police said.
• Around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, five people walked into the Daisy Diner, 1641 Second Ave., and asked to use the bathroom, police said. While inside, the suspects went through an employee’s jacket, but did not take anything, police said.
• Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, four people walked into San Matteo Pizza at 1559 Second Ave. and posed as customers, police said. While inside, two of the suspects entered a secured closet where the employees kept their personal belongings, and after they left, a 32-year-old woman found that her credit card and about $15 had been taken from her pocketbook, police said.
• Around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, four suspects walked into the City Brows hair removal service at 2265 Broadway and asked to use the bathroom, police said. One of the suspects distracted a 35-year-old woman employee while another took her purse from behind the counter, police said. The suspects made off with the woman’s credit cards and about $400 in cash, police said.
• Around 3 p.m. Sunday, July 23, a 27-year-old employee of the Silver Star Diner at 1238 Second Ave. discovered that her wallet was missing from her purse at the end of her shift, police said. Among the items that were missing were her credit cards and about $425 in cash, police said.
• Around 5:45 p.m. Sunday, July 23, four people walked into Le Botaniste at 833 Lexington Ave. and asked to use the bathroom, police said. After they left, two restaurant employees – women ages 21 and 24 – found their property was missing from an “employees only” room across from the bathrooms. Among the items missing were their credit cards and about $70 in cash, police said.
• Around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, six people walked into The Seamstress at 339 E. 75th St. and posed as customers before taking an 18-year-old woman’s backpack without her knowledge, police said. Two of the six were arrested on scene by 19th Precinct police officers as they tried to run off, and the victim’s property was recovered, police said.
CBS2 talked with several restaurant and bar managers who said the men were spotted last week. They said the men came in a group of four or five.
“I came out of the kitchen at which time two of the intruders had gone through the back door and hopped over the wall into the backyard area,” said Alex Webber, chef at Seamstress.
“They managed to distract the cashier make a bit of a scene; distract some of the employees. Shortly after, they left with someone’s luggage,” said Ari Kasimis, manager of Green Kitchen, 1477 First Ave. “Fortunately, the police officers in the area had already been following them and returned the belonging to the customer.”
None of the bar and restaurant staff who spoke to CBS2 reported anything missing from the cash registers.
Arrested were Charles Ross, 19, and Jermaine Drummond, 21, both of Brooklyn. They were charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, and Drummond was also charged with criminal mischief, police said.
The four suspects still at large were described as black males – one of them last seen wearing a black and orange baseball cap, an orange shirt, orange shorts and orange sneakers. Another was last seen wearing a blue baseball cap, a white shirt, light blue jeans and orange sneakers.
The third was last seen wearing a blue and white baseball cap, a white shirt and dark colored shorts, and the fourth was last seen wearing a black shirt with a letter B on its chest, blue jeans and black sneakers.
Police have released surveillance photos and video. None of the bar and restaurant staff who spoke to CBS2 reported anything missing from the cash registers.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.