The killing of a gas station attendant in Jericho last month was likely the work of the same man responsible for nine armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores in Nassau since December, Acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said Tuesday.
The department has "significantly increased" police patrols near the businesses as a result, Krumpter said at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola. He asked for the public's help in cracking the case. No arrests have been made.
Krumpter said the linkage between several other robberies and the Jan. 28 killing of gas station attendant Hany Awad -- investigators previously said they were unsure -- "raised the stakes and made it very concerning to this department."
Catching the suspect "is among the highest priorities of this department at this time. . . . I would like to encourage the public, that if they see anything suspicious . . . that they immediately call 911."
Since Dec. 9, 14 gas stations and convenience stores in Nassau have been held up, police said.
Investigators believe nine holdups in Jericho, Hicksville and Westbury and the killing of Awad, 56, during a suspected botched robbery in Jericho, were committed by a 20- to 25-year-old man described as about 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and dressed in all black, including gloves and a face mask. He's brandished either a silver or black revolver and worn black Nike sneakers with red laces in each holdup, police said.
In some of the linked armed robberies, the man stole cigarettes, police said.
Two other robberies on Jan. 26, of BP gas stations in New Hyde Park and Thomaston, which occurred about 35 minutes apart, are not connected to the others, but likely the work of one assailant, Krumpter said.
A Dec. 9 gas station robbery of a Shell in Bellerose Terrace, which was previously linked by investigators to the 10 identified as a pattern, is not connected, Krumpter said.
The holdup of a Shell gas station Monday night in South Valley Stream by a masked man with a knife is not connected to any of the others, Krumpter said, because the assailant used a knife rather than a gun.
The robberies have unnerved gas station workers, with one owner of a Mobil in Westbury saying he started locking the station's doors at nightfall, which has resulted in lost sales.
Nassau County Crime Stoppers is offering $25,000 for the arrest and conviction of the assailant in Awad's murder and $10,000 for the robberies, said Krumpter. The toll free hotline is 800-244-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.