Bandits are on the prowl for big bucks, and they’ve been up and down Broadway.
Just Monday, two men walked into the Target at 40 W. 225th St., in Marble Hill around 8:20 a.m. — minutes after the store opened — making their way to the back. There, at least one of them pulled out a gun, according to police, forcing a store manager to the ground before snatching $145,000 from an open safe.
The manager was counting money at the time, published reports said, and was told not to move while they grabbed the cash.
The crooks didn’t injure the manager, according to the 52nd Precinct, and it wasn’t clear whether just one or both of the men had a gun. But they did have a motorcycle, which they apparently hopped on right after the robbery, taking off to parts unknown, although at least one published report said they headed West back toward Broadway.
One of suspects wore a scarf over his face and carried a gray duffel bag, police said. His accomplice wore a gray winter jacket.
Target provided video footage from security cameras to police, yet despite the robbery, it was business as usual otherwise with the store open the rest of the day.
But the motorcyle roughriders who targeted Target weren’t the first to come across a lot of cash. Just a week before, a man staying a few miles up the road at the Van Cortlandt Motel was robbed of nearly $100,000 in a separate hefty cash heist.
In fact, the 50th Precinct is still searching for five people they believe were involved in the March 18 scheme.
According to reports, a 30-year-old man invited three women to his room at the 6393 Broadway motel that Sunday night around 10. It’s unclear whether the women spent the night or when they left, but according to published reports they allegedly were prostitutes the man hired to celebrate a windfall $96,000 legal settlement from a car accident.
Later on, according to reports, the women suggested a friend stop by with beer and cigarettes. But instead of suds and smokes, the man’s luck was about to run out.
Police say two men wearing dark-hooded sweatshirts and masks stormed into the room brandishing a firearm just before 7 a.m. They took the man’s bag, which he said contained the $96,000 cash, but didn’t injure him. The men then peeled off in a black minivan police said was parked nearby.
Information on the men and the weapon they used is hazy, but cops gave more details about the three women, whom they described as Hispanic and in their 20s and 30s. One was last seen donning a blue and white jacket and a pink mini-dress. A second wore a black coat, brown hat and brown pants, while a third was last seen in a black dress, black jacket and leg-high black boots.
Published reports identified the victim as Saul Mata Vellegas.
“I am haunted by this,” Vellegas told The New York Post. “I keep playing it over in my mind. I was surprised they pulled a gun. I said, ‘What is going on?’ I yelled, ‘Help, help.’ I was depending on that money to move my family.”
Anyone with information on the robbery can call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-8477. Tips also can be submitted by logging onto NYPDCrimeStoppers.com, or by texting tips to 274637 and then entering “TIP577.”
All calls, police said, are strictly confidential.