PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some Long Islanders are experiencing déjà vu, as another serial robber is targeting places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Carvel.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, victims might even think the robber was the same person who went on a spree earlier this year. But it was not – in this case, the thief is a woman with a pink weapon.
“I hope they catch her before she hurts somebody,” said Tom Carpone, the owner of a Carvel ice cream store in Farmingville.
Carpone fears for his teenage workers.
“It just wears you down, I’m exhausted,” he said, adding that he has had two different employees targeted. “Both times, we had three people on at night, you know. Evidently, she didn’t care.”
The knife-wielding robber is demanding cash from the register of multiple businesses in less than a week. Among them are two Carvels, a Family Dollar, and two Dunkin’ Donuts.
The most recent incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. Monday at a Dunkin’ Donuts on Medford Avenue in North Patchogue.
Police said the woman threatened an employee with a knife and demanded cash before fleeing on foot.
The employee said she’s hopeful police will catch the suspect soon because she was not wearing gloves and left her fingerprints on the counter, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“It’s very scary what’s going on in this community,” said Dunkin’ Donuts employee Patrick Jordan. “It’s happened to us. It’s happened to the gas station. It’s happened to Carvel.”
“I think it’s pretty crazy that anybody would be doing it. I’m sure she’s probably hooked on drugs. So it doesn’t discriminate. Man, woman, they just need help,” one customer at the Dunkin’ Donuts said.
“Everything’s out of control,” another customer said. “I come here quite often, it seems like a fairly safe strip mall.”
Police said the suspect is described as a white female, approximately 5-foot-1. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, dark pants and a black and white scarf covering her face, over what appeared to be dirty blonde hair. She had a wig disguise in another incident, police said.
She barks out commands during the robberies.
“I have one poor girl who is seeing a psychiatrist. She is sleeping with a knife under her pillow. She’s so upset,” said Carvel manager Debbie Davidson. “She worked Friday night, and she was the one who was robbed. I mean it – I get sick when I think about it.”
At the Dunkin’ Donuts in North Patchogue, the victim – who was on her second day on the job – allowed an audio interview.
She said she was alone when it happened, and she opened the cash register and handed over the proceeds as police would advise. She also said she saw the knife itself, but was “fine.”
Some patrons say it reminds them of the machete-wielding robber who struck 18 times earlier this year – holding up ice cream and sandwich shops. A suspect was arrested and charged in those incidents back in May.
Shane Cashmore, 30 – formerly of Ronkonkoma, more recently homeless – was arrested in connection with the 10 robberies in Nassau and eight robberies in Suffolk between February and May – mostly targeting ice cream and sandwich shops.
As he left court back on May 2, reporters asked Cashmore if his motivation was for drugs.
“Of course… I’m a heroin addict,” he said.
Meanwhile, two alleged accomplices — 31-year-old Juliana Pantaleone and 26-year-old Paul Drab — were also arrested in the incidents earlier this year.
“It begins at home,” Dunkin’ Donuts patron Everett Rushford said Tuesday. “If you don’t teach your children the right thing; if you don’t pay attention to what they are doing, unfortunately, they can go down the wrong path.”
“Whatever is going on, the police really need to crack down on this,” added employee Jordan.
Police may be close to solving the case, and thus are holding back on releasing surveillance video.
In each crime, it appears the female robber threatened the young employees with the same pink-handled knife. No one has been injured in any of the robberies.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 631-852-6555 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.