Suffolk and Nassau police are on the hunt for a gunman who has targeted at least eight women's clothing stores in the past two months and tied up employees and shoppers.
In the latest robbery at 10 a.m. Monday, a masked gunman forced people inside the Rainbow Shops in North Lindenhurst to the back of the store, ordered an employee to open a safe and took cash from the register, Suffolk police said. He also robbed two customers of their cash and jewelry, police said.
"I felt powerless so I just did what I was told," cashier Nelson Collado told News 12 Long Island.
Investigators in both counties have been discussing what they believe is a serial robber, responsible for at least six store holdups in Nassau since Aug. 20 and four in Suffolk since Sept. 7, authorities said. Except for two stores, all were fashion businesses, and detectives are trying to figure out why he targets women's clothes stores, police said.
In each case, the robber was armed with a black handgun, forced people to the rear of the store and tied them up, police said. He usually wore a black mask and often robbed the shoppers and workers, along with stealing the businesses' cash, police said.
Collado said the robber tied him, his mother and aunt up with zip ties, the same type of restraint that Nassau police said was used in some of its cases.
In Suffolk, the gunman hit Avenue Clothing in East Farmingdale Oct. 7, New York & Co. in West Babylon Oct. 12 and Avenue Clothing in Deer Park Oct. 26.
In Nassau, he held up Petco in Hicksville Aug. 20, the Dollar Store in Levittown Aug. 31, Torrid in Westbury Sept. 15, Dress Barn in New Hyde Park Sept. 17, Mandee's in East Meadow Oct. 5 and Joyce Leslie in Carle Place Oct. 8. In the Petco case, he used plastic, toy handcuffs to restrain three employees, Nassau police said.
The suspect appears to be 6 feet tall or just underr, with a thin to medium build, Suffolk and Nassau police said. In most of the cases, he ran off, police said.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by Suffolk for information leading to his arrest. Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.