A serial robber suspected in a monthlong string of commercial armed robberies in Suffolk may have used vehicles from a body shop where he works to escape, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
The suspect, described as a male in either his 20s or 30s, most recently struck last week when he held up a Ronkonkoma convenience store and later the same night, a Shirley fast food restaurant, Suffolk police said.
A grainy image of the suspect was captured on videotape near the Best Express convenience store at 336 Ronkonkoma Ave. that was held up at about 7:45 p.m. on Jan. 7.
Police sources Tuesday said the suspect lives in Medford and investigators have zeroed in on the body shop where he works.
Based on witness descriptions, investigators believe the cars he used to flee the robberies came from the body shop, sources said.
Armed with a black handgun, the suspect first targeted businesses Dec. 9 when he held up a Subway restaurant at 2920 Route 112 in Medford. According to intelligence documents obtained by Newsday, the robber entered the restaurant, displayed the weapon and demanded money saying, "Excuse me, money."
The robber is suspected of holding up the same restaurant two days later, according to the documents.
He was able to get away with over $700 in both heists.
According to documents, all the holdups have occurred between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. In most of them he covered his face with either a T-shirt or a ski mask and wore a black hoodie or gray hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans.
He targets cash-type businesses, said Det. Lt. Edward Reilly of the pattern crime unit last week.
In several holdups, the suspect fled with a few hundred dollars, but in a Christmas Day robbery of a Sunoco gas station in Coram, he made off with nearly $2,000, Reilly said last week.
In two of the holdups -- at a 7-Eleven in Medford on Jan. 3 and a Royal Market in Shirley the day before -- his attempts to get money came up empty. In some cases, the victims said he fled on foot, police said. According to documents, the suspect drove off in either a silver car with a sun roof, a four-door sedan, a pickup truck or a sport utility vehicle.