An enterprising gang of Russian-Americans dubbed the "Best-Buy Bandits" power-sawed their way into retail chain stores at night and left behind spikes in parking lots to disable pursuing police cars, officials said Tuesday.
The ring targeted suburban stores like Best Buy and Petco, carted out loads of cash and hi-tech goods inside duffel bags and planted spike strips to puncture the tires of patrol cars -- which happened during one heist in Pennsylvania, authorities said.
Nine suspects from Brooklyn and Staten Island, ages 18 to 21, stand accused of burglarizing stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio from January to April, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday. Five of them also are charged with trying to extort a kidnapped marijuana dealer by forcing him to his knees on a Staten Island beach and firing a gunshot into the air to scare him, documents said.
Mark Jaffee, the head of the New York Chamber of Commerce, said nine out of 10 major retailers report being victimized by an organized criminal gang in just the last year. He also said that those who pay for their electronics will simplay have to pay more when thefts like these occur.
"If it's not curbed, it will grow and will hurt the bottom line and those losses are passed on to consumers," Jaffee said.
Officials said this gang hit Best Buy stores along Bay Parkway in Brooklyn, in Hartsdale in Westchester County and Levittown on Long Island, as well as a Petco in New Hyde Park, Long Island.
The suspects were expected to appear in Manhattan Federal Court Tuesday.