Video Shows Method Robbers Have Used To Hit 17 Times In Brooklyn And Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police say a pair of criminals are on a rampage, targeting air pumps at gas stations.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan found out on Friday, the coin machine thefts have racked up big losses for local businesses.

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They were looking for a big haul, and two guys found it over and over again.

Surveillance video from a Sunoco station on Rockaway Boulevard in Queens shows how easy it has been for them.

The robbers pull up in an SUV that has a tow hook. They then throw a chain on the coin-operated air pump, and, very quickly, they rip it from the ground and haul it away. It takes just a matter of minutes.

A BP station on Van Dam Street was hit Monday Night. Pete Koutros, who works next door, said he came in to find the mess.

“It looked like a bomb went off. The fence was laid down almost down to the floor. There were these huge tow chains — I guess they must have used to secure the fence when they wanted to rip the machine off. It was unbelievable,” Koutros said.

If you think the robbers wind up with chump change, think again. Police said the thieves have made off with more than $49,000, between the hundreds of dollars in coins and the thousands the machines are worth.

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And they hit all hours of the day and night, not worrying who’s around.

“Coming in the middle of the night like this, this is open 24 hours. Yeah, they don’t care. They just do it. They just do it,” said Alexander Guzman, who works next door.

Since December, the thieves have struck 17 times in Brooklyn and Queens, police said.

A station on North Conduit Avenue and 130th Street has been hit three times, and a BP in Ozone Park had to replace its air pump twice.

“You gotta be a crazy guy, I mean, gotta be somebody, actually like really crazy people doing stuff like this,” Guzman said.

Station owners said after they get robbed their businesses gets hit again, adding that’s when customers looking for the air pump, and maybe gas or food, go elsewhere.

Police have limited descriptions, saying the two suspects are either white or Hispanic, and in one incident were driving a blue Honda Accord, Brennan reported.

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The air pumps are worth anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, Brennan reported.