Suffolk County police said they suspect the knifepoint robbery of a Ronkonkoma Subway shop on Tuesday night is the latest in a string of such heists across Long Island.
The robbery set off a massive search for the suspect, police said, in what appeared to be his 15th strike in two months.
The suspect, with his face covered and hands gloved, held up the Portion Road sandwich shop just before 8:30 p.m. and ran off with $300, police said. No injuries were reported.
A helicopter, a canine unit and officers scoured the area for the suspect, but he appeared to have escaped in a vehicle, Sixth Precinct Insp. William Murphy said.
A police dog had tracked him to a spot where there were tire marks, the inspector said, and there the scent trail ended.
In the immediate aftermath of the heist, police said they were not sure whether the robber was the man who has eluded capture since mid-February. That suspect has shown a penchant for hitting Subway stores and Carvel ice cream shops and had focused on Nassau and western Suffolk. Still, “he’s never gone this far east,” Murphy said.
But police believe the latest holdup fits the pattern of the knifepoint robber.
To confirm the link, detectives Tuesday night were trying to obtain surveillance video from the Ronkonkoma Subway to compare the suspect’s walk and size with videos from the other robberies, police said.
Detectives from the Suffolk police major case unit, which is heading the knifepoint-robbery investigation, were at the scene.
If the link to the Tuesday holdup is confirmed, the robber has hit five businesses in Suffolk and 10 in Nassau, and all but two were successful, authorities said.
Crime Stoppers is offering up to $10,000 as a reward in the case, half from Nassau and half from Suffolk. Detectives ask anyone with information to call 800-244-8477 in Nassau or 800-220-8477 in Suffolk.