Two suspects robbed a jewelry store of more than $150,000 in a broad-daylight heist over the weekend while impersonating NYPD cops amid George Floyd protests raging in the city, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Ismael Igartau of Queens and Jose Rodriguez of the Bronx, both 59, were buzzed into a jewelry store on 92nd Street at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday because the storeowner believed they were cops from the 19th Precinct.
The suspects were wearing bulletproof vests and one had what appeared to be a detective badge, according to prosecutors.
The pair asked to see the storeowner’s pistol permit, claiming firearms at city stores were at risk of being stolen because of looting in the city, prosecutors said.
They pulled out guns and zip-tied the owner’s wrists, a federal complaint said. They grabbed between $150,000 and $165,000 worth of jewelry and fled the store.
But the store owner called the police, who nabbed the two men at a nearby subway station.
The pair were charged with conspiracy, robbery, and firearm charges, the US Attorney for the Southern District said in a release Monday.
“The defendants’ alleged scheme — impersonating NYPD officers and asking to check the victim’s firearm due to recent incidents of looting — took advantage of uncertain conditions in our community, preying on the fears of a small business owner and his trust in law enforcement,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
“This alleged criminal conduct is intolerable, and thanks to the work of the NYPD and the FBI, the defendants face significant federal charges.”
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