A sophisticated crew of bank robbers, wanted in connection to possibly ten heists, cut a hole in the roof of a Queens bank to steal safe deposit boxes, NYPD officials said Monday.
An employee of the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank in Rego Park noticed the deposit boxes missing from the vault, as well as the hole in the roof at about 8:30 a.m., police said.
The thieves apparently built a small enclosure made out of wood to shield themselves while making the hole. They also cut a hole in bank's fence to make their escape and cut the security cameras to the bank before breaching the roof, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Monday.
The bank was closed Sunday, but it was not immediately clear if that's when the thieves struck, police said.
The bank remained closed Monday morning as police investigated the scene. A spokesman for the bank says it is determining exactly what's been stolen and the branch will remain closed in the meantime.
"We are hopeful that the breach will have only affected a limited portion of the boxes rented on site, and for those that were breached, that some of the items may have been left behind by the perpetrators and be recoverable after the police finish investigating," said spokesman Kyle Sklerov.
Residents near the bank said they saw signs of the robbery on Monday. Nitza Greco said she noticed a hole cut in a fence at her house nearby.
"All of the sudden I notice that a hole was there," said Greco. "So I ran and I told my husband and that's how we found someone robbed the bank."
Bank customers, meanwhile, were dumbfounded by the heist.
"With all the sophisticated security we have today, this is the result of it?" said John Dabrowski. "I mean, it's unbelievable."
It's the second robbery of its kind in the city in just over two months, and police think it's part of a larger pattern of bank robberies since 2011.
In April, thieves bored a hole in the ceiling of a Brooklyn bank and stole about $280,000.
In that heist, employees at the HSBC branch in Borough Park discovered that someone had carved a hole through the ceiling leading into the vault on a Monday in early April, according to the NYPD.
Police say the robberies are part of a pattern of eight other bank robberies dating back to January 2011. The other targeted banks have included a Sovereign Bank in Brooklyn, TD Banks in Brooklyn, a Citi Bank in Brooklyn, Santanders Banks in Brooklyn and Queens, and an HSBC Bank in Brooklyn. In four of the robberies, the suspects got away with jewelry, documents, cash or bank money, police said.
Maspeth Federal Savings Bank promised to keep customers informed on the status of their safe deposit boxes "as soon as we get more information."