A brazen daytime theft involving an armed robber posing as a deliveryman caused New York City’s 47th Street Diamond District to be closed off for several hours yesterday, as a SWAT team descended on the street to hunt down the suspects.
According to a statement from the New York City Police Dept., at 2:30 p.m., a man disguised as a delivery person was buzzed into a jewelry store on the 8th floor of 23 W. 47th St. and pulled out a gun. He then demanded jewelry from the store’s safe. Four employees were complying when a fifth employee, a 56-year-old man, entered and was hit with a gun, causing a minor laceration. The armed man and a lookout soon fled with an undetermined amount of jewelry and money.
Following the incident, police closed off 47th Street, residents of 23 W. 47th were evacuated, and workers were told not to leave their buildings. Witnesses report seeing SWAT team members and snipers on building roofs, though rumors of a hostage situation appear to be inaccurate.
Industry members and news teams documented the scene on social media:
47th street shut down. —Jenny (@jennyperiquito) November 11, 2014
The suspects were still at large at press time. One is described as a 6-foot- tall, 40- to 50-year-old black male wearing a dark trench coat, light-colored slacks, and tweed Kangol hat. The other is a 30- to 40-year-old black male, wearing a red baseball cap, True Religion jeans, black zippered hoodie, and black sneakers. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, or go to NYPDcrimestoppers.com.
Jewelers’ Security Alliance said it was too soon to comment on the incident, but has the following security recommendations for dealing with delivery personnel:
– If you don’t have to admit someone, don’t. Letters and small parcels should be passed through a slot, and larger boxes can be placed within double doors.
– If possible, have employees learn the faces and names of regular delivery people.
– If there is someone you don’t recognize, or they are making an unscheduled visit, before you let them enter, ask for identification and a phone number to confirm their identity. Before calling, independently confirm the number.
– Use extreme caution in admitting anyone when you are alone, especially if the visit is unscheduled or unexpected.
– Never admit a stranger before or after business hours.
– Learn what proper identification a legitimate courier and other tradespeople are required to carry, and become familiar with the regular delivery uniforms.