PELHAM, NY —The bad news first: police are still searching for the suspect in two armed robberies that took place and, possibly, two more that took place in the Town of Mamaroneck and New Rochelle.
The good news: Peham community members appear to mobilized and ready for action.
Pelham village police Chief Joseph Benefico spoke to more than five dozen community members about the robberies inside a private home Thursday night with the purpose quelling a number of false rumors that have swirled around town the past few days.
“Obviously, right now we’re going to have a guy at the train station and a guy, and another guy and maybe a detective in an unmarked car and we actually have county police in unmarked cars in the village right now helping us” Benefico said.
The first robbery took place at about 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 12. A man was walking on First Street, near Cliff Avenue, when he was approached by a suspect wearing a ski mask and brandishing a black, semi-automatic handgun.
The robber ordered the victim to lay on the ground and stole a wallet and phone, before fleeing. The suspect in that robbery is described as a six-foot tall, black male, between 180 to 200 pounds, who was wearing a black jacket and black pants.
The second robbery took place Tuesday at about 8:20 p.m. on the 200 block of Monterey Avenue. A woman was walking home from the train station when she heard foot steps approaching her from behind. When she turned around, she saw a man wearing a black ski mask, black hooded sweatshirt and black pants approach her and display a black, semi-automatic hand gun.
The robber, who was described as being about 170 pounds and 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet tall, ordered the woman to lay on the ground. He then grabbed two carry bags, a cell phone and a wedding ring before fleeing the scene.
Pelham investigators believe the suspect may have been responsible for an armed-robbery that and are working with Mamaroneck police.
Benefico said after Tuesday’s robbery, the stolen cell phone had been used in the Town of Mamaroneck and was later traced to the Bronx in the New York City Police Department’s 40th Precinct. Benefico said his department has reached out to the NYPD’s robbery squad in the Bronx for assistance.
Police are also investigating the possibility that the same man may have committed a robbery that took .
“Although the descriptions are similar, we do not feel that right now it is related, but it can be,” Benefico said of the New Rochelle robbery.
Benefico believes the suspect drove to the scene of each robbery and said police are currently looking for a vehicle description using license plate readers to try and single out suspicious cars.
But Benefico urged residents to be extremely careful when walking from the train. He said people should try to walk in groups and stay in lighted areas. He also urged residents to call police if they see something suspicious.
Residents who attended the meeting made a number of suggestions for dealing with the crimes. Those suggestions included hiring more part-time police officers, assigning car stickers that denote village residents, setting up suggested walking routes for people who travel from the train station, and setting up neighborhood watches.
Peham village Trustee Geoff Lewis said the village would take all of these suggestion into account.
“Police and fire coverage are two of the most important things that the village does, so we take this very seriously,” Lewis said. “There were a lot of good suggestion tonight...[but] as was mention, the budget is very tight. We’re coming up on budget season in a couple of months now. Realistically, there’s not a lot of room to increase the police budget.”
Lewis did suggest that residents sign up here to receive updates and warnings from the village so that they can get receive update to information on safety related issues.
Peter DiPaola, the Pelham town supervisor, believes the meeting was effective.
“It empowers the people because they get more ideas about what to do to prevent themselves from being victims,” DiPaola said. “The police can’t do everything and they can’t be everywhere and they can’t do everything. Basically, we need to be empowered not to be a victim.”
Janine Yorio, who hosted the meeting at her home, was pleased with the turnout.
“You can ask the police to patrol but there are only so many of them,” Yorio said. "We have to depend our neighbors to help keep the neighborhood safe.”
To the right of this story is a PDF containing safety tips from the Pelham police department. Below is chart of violent crimes in the Village of Pelham from 2005-2010 that was created by using statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations' annual crime reports.Year City Population Violent Crime
Nonnegligent ManslaughterForcible Rape Robbery
TheftArson 2010 Pelham Village 6418 20 0 0 10 10 100 19 79 2 0 2009 Pelham Village 6438 12 0 1 10 1 98 15 76 7 0 2008 Pelham Village 6479 8 0 0 3 5 140 22 116 2 0 2007 Pelham Village 6403 8 0 0 8 0 128 25 93 10 0 2006 Pelham Village 6381 18 0 0 7 11 146 12 118 16 0 2005 Pelham Village 6412 14 0 1 10 3 115 14 92 9 0