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Million-dollar heist: Cops seek crooks who beat elderly woman, robbed fortune from Flushing jewelry store

Feb. 28, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

The NYPD is asking the public for assistance in identifying four suspects captured on security cameras who beat a 78-year-old woman looking after her daughter’s jewelry store, Diamonds by Direct in Flushing, before robbing an estimated $1.1 million in jewelry on Feb. 22. Two of the perpetrators committed the acts while the other two waited in the getaway vehicle, according to the NYPD.

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The suspects who acted as lookouts (Photo via NYPD)

According to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig, one of the suspects, dressed as an Amazon employee, left a package at the door of the store. The woman waited for him to leave before unlocking the door to retrieve the package. Upon doing so, the man and another perpetrator who was wearing a mask and dressed in all black rushed the door, with the one disguised as a worker brandishing a gun and the other a hammer.

Both suspects ended up viciously kicking the woman, with one pistol-whipping her. She was dragged across the floor before the one dressed in black smashed open the glass case in which the jewelry was housed. The two then took an estimated value of $1.1 million in jewelry before fleeing. The woman suffered several bruises and blunt-force trauma from the beating, according to Essig.

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The vehicle carrying all four suspects (Photo via NYPD)

While it was initially believed that these were the only two suspects involved in the beating and robbery, security footage from the area has revealed that there were two others involved. In the footage, all four individuals are shown riding in the same black Mercedes-Benz before the incident took place. The other two individuals were also caught on camera nearby, allegedly acting as lookouts as the first two suspects beat the woman and stole the jewelry.

Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey recommended store owners in the area ask potential customers to remove their masks or face coverings at the door before they enter so that security cameras can get a good look at them. Once they enter, then the store owners could tell them they can put their masks or face coverings back on.

“Since the pandemic, this is a way of life for us, where people wear a mask regularly,” Maddrey said. “But we’re seeing them be used too much as a ruse to enter businesses and victimize businesses. We need to make sure people are identifying themselves. They need to look at indicators.”

Despite the fact that one of the perpetrators was dressed as an Amazon employee, Essig said the NYPD does not believe at this time that he was an actual employee for the company. This conclusion was drawn after the department was in communication with the company.

“It was pretty brutal what they did to that 78-year-old female,” Essig said. “She gets knocked on the floor, pistol-whipped and they dragged her to the back to try to get her to open the safe. They bum-rushed her and knocked her right to the ground.”

Anyone with information in regard to the beating and robbery is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or on Twitter @NYPDTips. There is currently a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of these assailants.

All calls are strictly confidential.

“This particular robbery, it was very bothersome to see a person of that age be attacked in the way that she was,” Maddrey said. “The [business owner and woman] did a lot of steps right here, but there are so many different ruses that [these robbers] are doing against the community, businesses and smoke shops. We want to take this opportunity to address the businesses and ask them to be more proactive. Take advantage of our free surveys and, as a condition in the future, make sure that people identify themselves. The businesses have to protect themselves as we work to protect them, too.”

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