‘We Know Who Did It’: Cops Pursue Suspect In Spate Of Business Break-Ins

Burglary at Acme Wines & Spirits
Surveillance footage of burglary at Acme Wines & Spirits (Photo courtesy of Acme Wines & Spirits)

Police believe they have identified the suspect responsible for at least six March break-ins in the Park Slope neighborhood.

At the 78th Precinct Community Council Meeting that took place Wednesday night, 78th Precinct Captain Frank DiGiacomo expressed confidence about catching the suspect, saying that the police were “working closely with the DA’s office” on the case.

DiGiacomo revealed that a burglar’s glove was found at one of the locations where the crimes were committed, providing a valuable clue.

Between March 2 and March 27, at least six break-ins took place — including two incidents at Athena Mediterranean Cuisine (535 6th Avenue at 14th Street).

In addition, a seventh attempt took place at Loki Lounge (341 2nd Street between 4th and 5th Avenues), however the perpetrator(s) were unable to break through their security.

Captain DiGiacomo also confirmed that police believe the current incidents are being carried out “by the same group that were doing it in the summertime” last year.

The rash of at least six burglaries last year resulted in approximately $90,000 stolen, including two burglaries at Greenwood Park (555 7th Avenue).

According to cops, one suspect was arrested last Fall in connection to those incidents. 25-year-old Alberto Bryan Lopez of Manhattan was charged on September 2, 2015 with burglary, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief, and criminal trespassing. However, a significant amount of the robberies took place after September 2. It is not clear whether Lopez is involved in these current incidents.

DiGiacomo asked business owners to be vigilant by removing money from their businesses after each evening, and to clear the registers and leave the drawers open to provide a visual mark to a burglar that money was not kept in the store.

The list of recent break-ins include:

Acme Wines & Spirits (487 5th Avenue) was broken into on Monday, March 21 at approximately 7:15am. Security footage shows one suspect. Owner Donald Killinger told us that the suspect left empty-handed. “It cost me about $800 to repair the door and glass,” he said.

Athena Mediterranean Cuisine (535 6th Avenue) was burglarized on Saturday, March 5 at 5:00am and Wednesday, March 23 at 12:40am. Co-owner Andrea Hiotis explained that $2,000 in cash was taken during the March 5 incident. “They stole from the basement and broke into our cash register. The second time [March 23] they only took some quarters and change.” One suspect was captured on the security camera.

Culture Yogurt (331 5th Avenue) was broken into Sunday, March 27 at approximately 4:00am, according to employee Mariela. $100-$150 was taken. “They couldn’t get in the cash register, but they took our petty cash,” she said. Co-owner Jenny Ammirati said she has spoken with the police, who thinks the individual is the same for at least some of the other incidents. Security footage captured one individual.

Postmark Cafe (326 6th Street) was broken into Sunday, March 27 at approximately 3:30am, according to manager Katie Love. A total of $500 was taken — from both the cash register and office. “We got lucky,” says Love. “They left the laptops.”

Aji Fusion Sushi (201 5th Avenue) was also burglarized, according to Mark Caserta, Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Park Slope Business Improvement District. We have contacted the restaurant but have not received details as of yet.

“We just want to know who did this,” says Andrea Hiotis, co-owner of Athena Mediterranean Cuisine. “It’s not just about the money. I want my neighbors to be safe. I’m having so many anxieties about this.”

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