The alleged knife-wielding bandit possibly behind 18 armed robberies at businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties was arrested along with two accused accomplices after hitting their latest target, and authorities say it appears they were trying to feed a heroin addiction.
Shane Cashmore, his girlfriend Juliana Pantaleone and another man, Paul Drab, were taken into custody following a knifepoint robbery at a Carvel on Long Island Monday night.
"I'm sorry," Cashmore told reporters as he was led from a police station in handcuffs Tuesday. "I am a heroin addict."
The arrests stem from a joint operation between Nassau and Suffolk police departments, authorities said in a unique news conference Tuesday morning involving the police commissioners from both counties as well as the district attorney from Nassau.
Police began tracking Cashmore and his accomplices because they used a unique car for their getaways, a Hyundai Tiburon, authorities said. Only 200 of those cars are registered in New York and Long Island, and one of the owners had been arrested and released a month ago in the car for drug possession.
Detectives placed a GPS device on the vehicle and began tracking it, according to law enforcement sources, and finally caught up with Cashmore at the Carvel store Monday night after the 18th robbery.
Pantaleone and Drab, who are from Levittown, were waiting in the alleged getaway car for Cashmore, authorities said. When detectives went to arrest them, they saw Pantaleone about to inject herself with heroin.
"You can understand just how persistent the heroin problem is here on Long Island," said Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, adding that investigators from Nassau and Suffolk had been monitoring the trio since late April.
Eighteen businesses in both counties have been robbed since the spree began in February. No one was injured.
Promoda Patel's husband was one of the victims when he was working at a Subway store in North Merrick. He wasn't hurt, but it left both of them shaken.
"All the time, we locked the door because we were scared, but now, freedom!" she said after learning the "good news" of the arrests. "We not scared anymore."
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said, "Over the last several months, small business owners and workers have been on edge, but today they can rest more peacefully."
Each county will prosecute the robberies that took place there.