Police patrols of shopping center parking lots have been increased after two elderly women were targeted in robberies in separate incidents less than 24 hours apart outside stores in Westbury and East Rockaway, Nassau County police said.
Police aren’t certain if one man is responsible for both crimes. They have released a sketch of the suspect in the first case — a knife-point carjacking outside a Walmart in Westbury that ended with a robbery in Elmont.
“There’s very, very strong similarities,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a police spokesman, Tuesday. “At this point, we cannot state conclusively that it was the same person, but there are strong similarities.”
LeBrun said whoever committed the crimes targeted older women for quick cash and was particularly “brazen,” given the attacks occurred in broad daylight.
“Everybody has a grandmother; everybody has a mother,” LeBrun said. “We never want to see our seniors put in a position like this.”
In the Monday robbery, an 83-year-old woman was putting her purchases into her car around 11:28 a.m. at the Best Market on Atlantic Avenue in East Rockaway when a man offered to put her shopping cart away, police said.
After the woman was in her car, the man returned and got into the passenger’s seat, police said.
When the woman tried to get out, the man grabbed her arm, but she pulled away, got out of the car and began yelling for help, police said. Bystanders came to her aid and called 911. She was not hurt, police said.
The man, who did not display a weapon, ran toward Atlantic Avenue, police said. Police said he is in his 30s, about 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10, with facial hair, and wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap.
About 1:30 p.m. Sunday, a man armed with a large knife approached an 85-year-old woman who was getting into her vehicle in the Walmart parking lot on Old Country Road in Westbury, police said.
He demanded money, forced the woman into the passenger seat, took her keys and drove her to a Chase Bank in Elmont, police said. He forced the woman to give up her ATM card and PIN, and then he withdrew an undisclosed amount of money, police said.
The suspect drove about three blocks to Dutch Broadway and Audrey Avenue, where he got out of the vehicle and ran west, police said.
The woman, who was left with bruises to her torso, drove to the nearby Fifth Precinct in Elmont to report the crime, police said.
The Westbury suspect is 6-foot-1, in his 20s, with a thin build and wearing a dark baseball cap.
Detectives request anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.
With William Murphy