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College Point reflects on trio of bank heists

The Capital One Bank at the corner of 14th Avenue and College Point Boulevard has been the site of three stick-ups in a year, according to police.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Capital One Bank in College Point seems to be a popular target for stick-up artists, since last month’s failed heist marked the third incident there in a year, according to police, but it did not seem to phase residents who use the lender on a regular basis.

On Sept. 17, at about 10:30 a.m., a man strolled into the bank, at 122-03 14th Ave., and allegedly handed a teller a brown paper bag saying: “Put $2,000 in there if you don’t want anybody to get hurt,” according to police.

But the teller did not comply and the man then retrieved his bag and ran away, according to the NYPD.

Terezia Vormittag, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said she still feels safe going to the lender despite the trio of robberies and attempted robberies, which she chalked up to desperate criminals.

“Maybe it’s because of the economy, I don’t know,” she said. “You have a lot of bad people in this world.”

Bad economy or not, there is no excuse for robbing a bank, she said, adding that while she was not scared herself, it must have been an ordeal for the tellers.

In the most current heist attempt, the teller did not hand over any cash.

But in February, police arrested 56-year-old Roy Miller after he allegedly passed a note to a teller saying he had a gun. In that robbery, the bank employee forked over $1,000, according to police.

Miller allegedly fled the premises on foot, but was later caught by the city’s Finest near his house, at 121-11 20th Ave. He is currently serving jail time at an upstate correctional facility.

Other residents had theories about why the Capital One has been robbed multiple times.

Resident Richie Moore said unsavory types might be attracted to the bank because there used to be multiple ways out.

Until recently, the bank kept both a front and back door open, though multiple residents said that back door has since been locked. A paper sign in the window states: “This door is currently closed.”

When asked if any policies had changed in response to the multiple incidents, a manager at the bank said that “nothing has changed, really.” She then deferred all comments to Capital One’s corporate office, which issued a statement.

“We don’t speculate on why thieves target a specific branch, but we do everything we can to assist law enforcement in their investigations,” a spokesman said, adding that the bank provides security training to employees and works closely with police to make their branches safe.

The first of the three robbery took place in November 2011, when what witnesses describe as a gun-slinging senior allegedly knocked over the lending institution by showing the teller a revolver and making off with $1,000 in cash.

Francis Sferrazza said the bank may be a sought-after target because of its proximity to major routes out of College Point, though in each case the suspects fled on foot.

“You have easy access out at this point,” he said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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