2018-08-08 / Front Page

NYPD: Machete Bandit Targets Young Women in Astoria

By LIZ GOFF

Police are seeking help from the public in their search for a brazen, violent bandit who stalks young women in the overnight hours, threatening them with a weapon before making off with their purses, cash, credit/debit cards and other valuables.

Cops said the suspect has targeted women in their 20s in a 14-block area between 29th Street and 43rd Street in Astoria at least five times since July 28th. The man searches for victims that look like “easy targets,” in a pattern of robberies that have grown more violent with each attack, police said.

The suspect struck first at about 11:30 p.m. on July 28th, when he approached a 27-year-old woman in front of 34-19 33rd Street, where he flashed a knife, grabbed $120 from the victim’s purse and ran in an unknown direction.

He struck again at about 11:05 a.m. on July 29th, when he approached a 23-year-old woman in front of 30-62 36th Street and demanded that she hand over her cash. When the victim hesitated, the man lifted his T-shirt to display a large knife, police said. The woman complied and the suspect grabbed $60 cash from her purse and fled the scene.

The man struck for a third time at about 4:30 a.m. on July 31st, when he approached a 21-year-old woman at the corner of 43rd Street and 31st Avenue, punched the victim in the back of her head and choked her, then stole her wallet, which contained multiple credit cards and $30 cash. The woman walked into New York Presbyterian Hospital of Queens where she was treated for cuts and scrapes, police said.

The suspect struck again at about 12:52 a.m. on August 3rd, when he approached a 29-year-old woman who was entering her apartment building at 43rd Street and 34th Avenue, police said. He pushed the woman into the building lobby and attempted to grab her purse, but fled empty-handed.

The suspect’s latest reported robbery occurred at 12:43 a.m. on August 5th, when he approached a 28-year-old woman in front of 34-35 29th Street, police said. The man grabbed the woman from behind and put her in a chokehold, then grabbed her purse, which contained multiple credit cards and fled.

A sixth woman told a TV news crew that the man accosted her overnight on August 7th near 43rd Street and 34th Avenue. The woman said the suspect made off with her purse, which contained credit/debit cards and an undisclosed amount of cash. The woman did not report the robbery to police – and did not cancel her credit cards until she received alerts of heavy activity on the cards. Police were unable to confirm details of the robbery because the woman did not file a complaint.

The suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, 6-feet-tall, with a slim build. He was wearing an “I Love NY” T-shirt and red sneakers during several of the robberies and was wearing a surgical mask during the August 5th robbery, police said.

Police released surveillance footage and a photo of the suspect (see photo) and are urging anyone with information to call the CrimeStoppers HOTLINE at 1-800-577-TIPS or click on www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

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