New York—There’s been another jewelry store robbery in Brooklyn, New York, this time in the Cobble Hill neighborhood by a man believed to have committed several jewelry store heists.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, a man entered the Melissa Joy Manning boutique at 196 Court St., according to designer and founder Melissa Joy Manning.
He was fully covered, wearing a surgical face mask, sunglasses, and a hat.
The man made conversation with the one employee on duty, explaining he was shopping for an eighth anniversary present for his girlfriend and that his budget was $8,000 to match the occasion.
“He asked to see where all the diamond rings were, where all the necklaces were, took some pictures and said he would wait to hear back from his girlfriend,” Manning told National Jeweler Wednesday.
The man left the store after surveying some options. Realizing he was likely casing the store, the employee immediately reached out to Manning.
Manning sent an employee working at the company’s nearby location in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood to the Cobble Hill store so the first employee wouldn’t be alone.
She also contacted the store’s assigned New York City Police Department neighborhood community officer (NCO).
“Our previous NCO had been really responsive,” she said. “Any time we had any kind of suspicious character or anything odd he would send a car or a beat patrolman to be on the street.”
That officer was promoted, leaving a new police officer in his place. According to Manning, the new NCO didn’t take the situation seriously and didn’t advise Manning to call 911.
“He blew me off like I was a hysterical female, despite me asking for help and being very specific about what happened. He took my phone number and said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’”
As soon as the second employee stepped out for a moment, the suspicious man re-entered the store under the guise of having chosen a piece to purchase.
“[My employee] turned to open the case. He put a knife at her back and said, ‘This is a robbery. Remain calm. Just do what I say. Take everything out of the case and put it in my hands.’”
Manning said the robber instructed the employee to empty out one entire showcase dedicated to fine jewelry, then another showcase measuring six feet long. He put the stolen goods in a backpack.
As they moved closer to the door, he had the employee lie down. When he left—fleeing on foot down into the subway—he took a showcase key he had touched with him.
“He was methodical and calm. He obviously had done it quite a few times,” Manning said.
Upon conferring with other local jewelers, Manning believes this same individual has hit several other New York City jewelry stores, including Macha in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, also at knifepoint a couple of weeks prior.
She believes he is also the man who attempted to enter Goldpoint Jewelry in the same neighborhood, though employees “turned him away and called the police because they recognized him.”
Manning said she thinks the robber was in Page Sargisson’s Brooklyn jewelry store on Feb. 2, the same day he robbed her store, and that he is the man who “assaulted two employees” at Manhattan store Jill Platner on the day prior when they became suspicious of him and threatened to call the police.
The NYPD agrees with Manning and her fellow jewelers. She said they have escalated the case to the high-profile crime unit, investing the man as a serial burglar.
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Though the police are now taking the case seriously, Manning feels they were negligent when they didn’t act upon her initial call to her neighborhood community officer.
“He’s obviously targeting smaller, designer, women-owned stores,” Manning said.
The man is described as a tall Black male, likely between 6’2” and 6’4”. He’s been seen wearing jeans, black or white tennis shoes, and a black jacket.
He wears a surgical mask and red wraparound sunglasses. He also wears a hat, which has varied in different sightings, from a newsboy cap to a stocking cap. He has been seen with two backpacks at once—one that is blue and black and one that is red and black.
“He’s dangerous,” Manning said.
She advises anyone who sees him to immediately call 911. Anyone with information about the suspect should contact Detective Robert Manzi of the NYPD’s Brookly Robbery Squad at (718) 230-4432 or Robert.Manzi@nypd.org
Manning also asked jewelers to be on alert for suspicious requests to sell a lot of jewelry. She said Greenwich St. Jewelers received such a call from a man wanting to sell jewelry owned by a recently deceased relative the day after the Melissa Joy Manning robbery.