Two Men wearing bulletproof vests, medical masks and gloves, robbed a Manhattan jewelry store of $150,000 in valuables. They dressed up in NYPD uniforms and buzzed the door.
Ismael Igartua, of Queens, and Jose Rodriguez, of The Bronx, both aged 59, are suspected of ransacking the Samaa K Jewelry store on 92nd Street on Saturday afternoon amid ongoing George Floyd protests.
They were apprehended a short time later at a nearby subway station after actual police officers noticed one of the suspects wearing a bulletproof vest.
They are accused of masquerading as cops, taking away store owner’s legal gun, restraining him with zip-ties and emptying out his safe.
After the store owner unlocked the door for the bogus cops, they asked to see his gun and permit, claiming that, due to the recent looting of businesses in New York, firearms were at risk of being stolen.
Both Igartua and Rodriguez have past criminal records in the State of New York.
According to the complaint, Igartua, who has multiple aliases, was convicted in June 1988 of first-degree burglary.
In September of that year, Rodriguez was convicted of second-degree attempted burglary.
If found guilty at trial of all the federal charges against them, the pair could face up to a life in prison.
Said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea: “Posing as police officers to prey on a city business during an international pandemic, as alleged, is dangerous to civilians and law enforcement officers. Arrests like these highlight the indispensable work of our NYPD detectives, and federal partners, in ensuring justice for New Yorkers.”
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “As alleged, the defendants participated in a brazen daytime robbery, in which a victim was threatened at gunpoint and tied up. 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. This alleged criminal conduct is intolerable, and thanks to the work of the NYPD and the FBI, the defendants face significant federal charges for their alleged crimes.”