A robbery crew has been targeting oil deliverymen in a handful of Nassau County communities, demanding cash and sometimes brandishing guns, Nassau police said Monday.
Four robberies since December are being tracked by police, who said they suspect the crew has targeted the deliverymen in hopes they'd pocket large sums of cash collected by the workers from homeowners paying their bills. Only one robbery netted the suspects any money from payments; in the other incidents the robbers made off with only the workers' personal cash, police said.
Police said they are working with the oil companies to protect workers and have beefed up patrols along some routes.
The first robbery took place in Baldwin about 2 p.m. Dec. 16, when three men approached a 49-year-old deliveryman for Slomin's Oil and threw him to the ground. Police said one of the suspects put a gun against his neck and said, "Where's the money?" The suspects took an undisclosed amount of money from the man's pockets and left in a blue Chevrolet sedan.
Det. Sgt. John Giambrone, commander of the Nassau police Robbery Squad, said detectives think the four incidents are the work of a single crew targeting deliverymen because the robbers think deliverymen carry large amounts of money paid by customers.
But, Giambrone said, "the proceeds have been minimal."
The most recent robbery was in Roosevelt Monday morning, when a 41-year-old man working for Petro Oil was approached by a single assailant who had a handgun and demanded money.
The masked suspect was described as between the ages of 15 and 20 and 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-7. He was wearing a black puffy jacket, gloves and blue jeans, police said.
In a Jan. 17 incident a 44-year-old victim making a delivery at a home on Coolidge Avenue in Baldwin about 12:10 p.m. was attacked after a man approached him and demanded money, police said.
The two struggled, and a second suspect grabbed the victim from behind and threw him to the ground. The suspects took cash and an iPhone from the victim's pockets, police said.
The two then left in a blue Chevrolet Malibu with unknown out-of-state plates. The victim had minor cuts to his head and face but declined medical attention, police said.
On Jan. 14 a worker pumping oil for cash on delivery on Webster Avenue in Hempstead was met by a man who presented himself as the homeowner.
Another man approached and "simulated" that he had a gun, police said, and took the victim's wallet, which contained cash and credit cards.
The men left on foot.