Police in Nassau and Suffolk counties are intensifying patrols to catch a man believed to have committed a string of at least 14 armed robberies of gas stations across Long Island.
The man began his spree, which has included gas station holdups from Elmont to Riverhead, with the Aug. 4 robbery of a BP station in Hempstead, police said. His most recent target was a BP in Lakeview on Tuesday, police said. No injuries have been reported in any of the eight heists in Nassau or six in Suffolk, police said.
The perpetrator, who has consistently covered his weapon with a T-shirt or cloth, has crisscrossed the Island, striking a Citgo in Elmont on Aug. 18 and hitting three stations, in Holbrook, Centereach and Riverhead, the next day, police said.
Suffolk Chief of Detectives William Madigan said his department is working closely with Nassau police, who he said are the lead investigators. In each Suffolk robbery, the thief netted $500 to $850 in cash, Madigan said.
"We're putting a lot of effort and a lot of manpower hours into developing a suspect in the case," he said in an interview Wednesday, adding the perpetrator's description, clothing and mannerisms are "consistent" in all the robberies.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said solving the pattern is a "significant priority."
"The department is aggressively investigating. While he's not engaged in violence yet, that's always a concern," Krumpter said, referring to the Jan. 28 fatal shooting of gas station attendant Hany Awad, 56, of Levittown, in one of 12 robberies authorities say was committed by Joshua N. Golson-Orelus, 23, of New Cassel. He awaits trial in jail on a first-degree murder count and other charges.
Nassau police cracked that case, in part, by putting a tiny GPS tracker in money at a gas station. Asked about any plans to use the technology again, Nassau police chief spokesman Det. Sgt. Richard LeBrun said, "There have been conversations with regards to that, but we can't give out all the information right now on what we're doing."
In the most recent robbery, the suspect -- described as a 5-foot-8 man in his 20s with a medium build and facial hair -- was armed with a covered semiautomatic pistol, demanded money from a clerk and fled.
"Believe me, every police officer in Nassau County is aware of this pattern and is very vigilant on their patrols," LeBrun said. "We use intelligence-led policing, so we know exactly where to place our patrols and we have different teams that go out in these types of situations," including specialized and undercover officers.
Police ask that anyone with information call Nassau Crime Stoppers at 800-244-8477 or Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477.
With John Valenti