The NYPD is searching for a pair of armed robbers targeting businesses across three boroughs, including two smoke shops right here on the Upper East Side — one of them robbed at gunpoint just two days after its grand opening.
The two-month long robbery spree that began back in August has continued to escalate, with multiple stores now being struck minutes apart — the same shop apparently never targeted twice, according to investigators.
The stickups started in Brooklyn, where a total of five different stores were robbed at gunpoint. In early September, the duo’s robberies expanded to Queens, then in mid-September to the Upper East Side.
Police say the crooks flash a gun to the clerk inside the store and demanded they hand over money from the register — getting away with hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in cash each time. Most of the heists happening occurred between 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm, according to investigators.
Back on Tuesday, September 13th, just after 9:30 pm, police say the suspects walked into Convenience of Lexington smoke shop at 1436 Lexington Avenue, between East 93rd and 94th Streets, and walked out with $350 from the cash register after robbing the store at gunpoint.
Convenience of Lexington made headlines last week when the business was busted by the NYC Sheriff’s Office and received summons and violations accusing it of selling untaxed cigarettes, illegal flavored tobacco and even unlawful cannabis products.
Three-and-a-half weeks and ten robberies later, the pair of crooks would return to the Upper East Side for another smoke shop stick-up.
This time it was Pre-Roll World Cannabis, located at 1726 Second Avenue, between East 89th and 90th Streets, that was robbed at gunpoint. According to police, the suspects walked into the store on Sunday, October 9th — two days after the store’s Grand Opening — and pulled a pistol and demanded the 18-year-old clerk hand over the money.
Detectives say they swiped $485 from the cash register and another $800 in merchandise from the brand new Yorkville smoke shop.
According to NYPD data, robberies on the Upper East Side are up nearly 41% through October 9th of this year, compared to the same time last year. That’s slightly higher than the 35% increase in robberies reported citywide in 2022.
The gunmen in this robbery spree are seen in surveillance images released by the NYPD wearing dark colored clothes, including hoodies and black masks — armed with either a silver or black pistol. They make their escape after the robberies either on foot or using a moped, police say.
Thankfully, no one has been hurt during the armed heists.
If you saw anything or have any information that could help police catch these robbery suspects, you’re asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477.