Each time, authorities said, the three perpetrators, who are described as Hispanic men, pulled yellow and green taxi drivers over in a white cargo van and claimed to be police officers. They then sprayed a substance into the victims’ faces and stole money and credit cards.
According to Captain Peter Fortune, commanding officer of the 114th precinct, the men are responsible for five robberies within the precinct. Most of the robberies occurred in the vicinity of 41st Avenue and Crescent Street, he said.
On Sept. 8 at 10:30 p.m., the perpetrators pulled over a 55-year-old male in front of 39-25 27th St. in Long Island City but did not steal anything from him.
An hour later, they pulled over a 44-year-old male in front of 39-50 Crescent St. in Long Island City and stole his wallet containing credit cards and $20 in cash.
On Sept. 9 at 12:45 a.m., the suspects pulled over a 58-year-old male at the corner of 35th Avenue and 29th Street in Astoria and took $45 in cash from his wallet.
On Sept. 16, at 2:00 a.m., two of the perpetrators stopped a 62-year-old man driving a livery cab at 40 Avenue and Crescent Street. They used a flashlight to get him to stop and had radios which sounded like police transmissions. They then stole $155 and left the location.
On Sept. 25th at about 2:25 a.m., officers in the 114th precinct found and arrested “the ringleader” of the group.
Police responded to a report of a robbery at 35 Avenue and Crescent Street. The 39 year-old male victim informed the officers he was stopped by three males wearing vests and two-way radios. The three males shined their flashlights at the victim’s face and stated that they were from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The suspects then stole $60 and a Samsung Galaxy phone from the victim.
A description of the suspects as well as the white van that they fled in was broadcasted over police radios. Canvassing officers located the van parked and unoccupied in the vicinity of 14 Street and 37 Avenue. Officers Christina McDonald and Dwight Wander, both assigned to the 114 Precinct, observed a male matching a photo on a wanted person flyer walking into the subway station at 41st Avenue and 21st Street.
Officers shut down major highways and the RFK Bridge to ensure he could not flee, according to Fortune.
When they stopped him he was carrying two radios, which are capable of transmitting over police frequencies, as well as a flashlight with the word “police” inscribed on it and a burglar tool.
The male was identified as Ricardo Torres and taken into custody to the 114 Precinct for a further investigation.
Torres, 29, of Manhattan, was found to have 15 portable radios, 9 scanners, 9 hand-held microphones, four speakers, two roof antennas, one amplifier, four laptops, two desktops, three cellphones, seven CDs, one camcorder and one notepad in his home.
He was charged with possession of burglar’s tools, two counts of Unlawful Possession of Radio Devices, two counts of robbery and two counts of criminal impersonation.
Kevin A. Remache, 19, of Manhattan was arrested the next day and charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree criminal impersonation.
Jay Peralta, 20, of Corona was arrested on three counts of second-degree robbery, four counts of making terroristic threats, seven counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, seven counts of second-degree obstructing governmental administration, five counts of third-degree false report incident and two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment.
Investigators also found that Peralta had previously made numerous unauthorized transmissions over police radio frequencies, which included bomb threats involving a pressure cooker, threats to shoot police officers and false calls of officers in distress.
Remacha and Peralta also set fire to a black Chevrolet SUV at 70-20 47th Ave. on Aug. 8 so they were both charged with arson and reckless endangerment.
Torres is currently in custody on $400,000 bail.
“I’m happy to say all three perpetrators are in custody,” Fortune said. “Not only are we making good arrests, we’re working closely with the [District Attorney’s] office to get high bail and keep them in jail.”