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Bodega robberies continue in southern Queens

Southern Queens residents, still recovering from a recent string of bodega robberies that left seven dead, may be forced to relive the nightmare, as two more stores were hit earlier this month.
Authorities are linking the two most recent holdups to the 19 that plagued the South Ozone Park neighborhood from March to June.
Midway Deli and Grocery, at 136-35 Springfield Boulevard and Reyes Grocery, at 144-12 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, were robbed by two armed, African-American men wearing bandanas.
&#8220We are investigating the possibility that these robberies are linked,” said a police source in a published report. &#8220It's likely that they are.”
Authorities got lucky when new camera systems in place at the Midway and Reyes groceries caught both holdups on camera. Police are using the tapes as evidence.
&#8220I wasn't really scared,” said Midway owner Mike Ahmed in published reports. &#8220I just told them to take it all.”
Luckily for Ahmed, the robbers took nothing, as they fled after being unable to open the cash register.
The Reyes holdup took place less than an hour after Midway's. The family-owned bodega lost $600.
&#8220I'm afraid that they might come back and do something worse to us,” said Gregoria Reyes, 50, who owns the store with her husband.
Both bodegas have now been robbed twice since May. Dating back to March 19 such robberies have occurred, the most violent of which took place in June at the Kennedy Mini-Mart in South Ozone Park. Owner Bolivar Cruz, father of seven girls, was shot to death while two of his daughters looked on.
The NYPD has been unable to apprehend the assailants in this incident, from which politicians say the community has not yet recovered.
&#8220There's a sense of unsteadiness,” said City Councilmember Leroy Comrie. &#8220There's a general concern. The threat of violence is high.”
Comrie said he is toying with the idea of pushing for legislation to help bodega owners by requiring them to leave window space clear, rather than cover windows with advertising.
&#8220Advertising space is understandable,” Comrie said, &#8220but to block the view into the store completely is only inviting this rash of robberies.”
Despite the lack of any arrests, the police, said Comrie, &#8220are making an effort.”
&#8220It's difficult to monitor every door,” said Comrie. &#8220The police have had some meetings with bodega owners, and the owners have been responsive.”

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