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NYPD closing in on jewelry robbery ring that targets the elite: ‘Expect more arrests’

By Rocco Parascandola

New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Cops are close to cracking a $4 million jewelry robbery ring that targets patrons at ritzy Manhattan nightclubs and restaurants, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday.

“We’re working with all five district attorneys and multiple federal agencies on a task force on this,” Shea said on Fox 5′s “Good Morning New York.”

“You can absolutely expect more arrests as we get closer to bringing this to a conclusion,” Shea said.

A 19-year-old member of one gang believed behind the robberies — known as OED, or “Own Every Dollar” — was busted early Monday following a confrontation with police outside Pergola, a Chelsea hotspot on W. 28th St. near Sixth Ave. in which cops fired at least three shots at an escaping BMW.

Cops were on alert for the robbery crew when they tried to stop the BMW, which had a license plate that belonged to a Mercedes Benz, officials said.

Shots were fired moments later, with the BMW driver jumping a curb before speeding off down W. 28th St. toward Fifth Ave.

When the car hit the corner, the three men inside abandoned it and ran off, cops said.

The 19-year-old suspect, identified by a police source as Wilson Mendez, was apprehended a short time later near Madison Square Park and charged with weapons possession after a gun was found in the car.

Mendez has been identified as a member of OED and has been arrested six times in the past on charges including resisting arrest, unauthorized use of a vehicle and weapon possession, sources said.

Police believe the robbery crew has netted more than $4 million in jewelry since the spree began in the summer.

Cops say the suspects from the Monday morning shooting may be linked to two August robberies.

On Aug. 19, a 34-year-old man leaving Pergola was robbed of about $100,000 worth of jewelry.

On Aug. 14, two men, ages 47 and 27, were robbed as they left TAO Downtown. Police said the crooks got away with a Richard Mille watch and other jewelry worth about $4 million from the older victim and a $10,000 medallion necklace from the younger victim.

Cops are also investigating if the suspects can be linked to the Sept. 15 robbery at the celebrity hangout Philippe Chow, a high-end Chinese restaurant on E. 60th St. In that incident, a 28-year-old man on a first date was shot in the leg trying to fight back against two masked suspects. The crooks fled with a Rolex from another diner.

Police believe the suspects case out restaurants and their targets, said law enforcement sources. Sometimes the robbers use female spotters, and sometimes they act on the fly — if they see someone with expensive jewelry, they jump out and rob them, said the sources.

The gang members involved in the heists belong to OED, the Trinitarios, and other groups, the sources added.

Shea said Tuesday the robbery crew has “absolute gang ties.”

“We are tracking a number of these cases throughout the city,” Shea told 1010 WINS. “Our message to them is we are going to come after you with the full might and fury of the criminal justice system.”

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