Thieves robbing high-end stores in Manhattan — including a Soho Chanel caper caught on dramatic video — have stymied cops so far by wearing face coverings and fleeing in rental cars bearing bogus license plates, the NYPD said Thursday.
“These types of incidents are blatant disregard for the law and cannot continue to happen,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said in a call with reporters.
He said the department was looking at about 20 stores that have been robbed since September by the same crew that sends mask-wearing robbers into stores to snatch items before taking off in the cars rented with a fake ID and bearing phony plates.
The department hasn’t released a complete list of stores that were robbed, but they also include two Moncler shops on Madison Avenue and Prince Street, the Thom Browne menswear store on Hudson Street and the COS boutique on Spring Street.
“We’re using facial recognition, but you’ve also certainly seen in the past that these … criminals are capitalizing off of wearing these face masks,” Harrison said. “So it’s extremely difficult for us to identify who these individuals are.”
“We do have people of interest that we’re definitely looking at,” he said.
He said the robberies usually consist of between three to nine crooks who run inside a store.
“What they do is they just go in the store and start snatching things off the shelves and then run out and then jump into vehicles and then drive off or speed off,” he said, adding that investigators had identified “multiple vehicles of interest.”
Many of the cars use temporary out-of-state license plates, “which adds investigative steps for us to track them.”
Many stores were also taking steps to prevent the thefts, including adding buzzers to doors and establishing an alert system so shops could alert one another when an incident occurs and “quickly share information amongst each other,” Harrison said.
Harrison asked for the public’s help while warning them from purchasing the purloined items, which he said are being hawked on social media platforms.
“Anyone found in possession of these items will become part of our investigation,” he said.