Today’s news:

Men rob Chase branch in Little Neck at gun point

Two armed men robbed a Chase Manhattan Bank Monday morning in Little Neck, making off with some $170,000 in cash before fleeing the scene southbound on Little Neck Parkway, police and law enforcement sources said.

Police said one of the suspects held a gun to a bank teller’s head after they entered the bank at 252-34 Northern Blvd. at about 10:30 a.m. Monday while his accomplice took the money from a safe. No one was hurt in the incident, police said.

While the amount stolen was originally reported as $225,000, a law enforcement source said an internal bank investigation later uncovered that the actual amount stolen was closer to $170,000.

Customers who wanted to do business in the Chase bank, which is located in a large building across from the Scobee Diner at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Little Neck Parkway, were surprised to find the door locked.

During the 111th Precinct’s initial investigation of the robbery on Monday the bank door was locked and customers were turned away. A hastily written sign posted on the glass door read: “Due to unforeseen circumstances we are closed. Sorry.”

About a dozen people tried to enter the Chase Bank, unaware of what had occurred. Many tugged on the door and peered inside as police talked to the bank employees.

A manager who did not identify herself declined to comment on the incident Monday.

Police officers eventually cordoned off the entire Chase Manhattan Bank parking lot with yellow tape and NYPD cars lined the corner outside the building as investigators worked to track down clues in the case.

Eventually the FBI/NYPD Joint Bank Robbery Task Force took over the investigation of the incident, FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette said Tuesday.

Valiquette said while the alleged robbers were originally reported to be wearing a security guard’s uniform, there has been no detailed description of the thieves.

“Nobody has given a very good description,” he said. Valiquette also said initial reports that the robbers held a gun to a person’s head inside the bank may have been exaggerated.

“It appeared to have been very low key,” he said.

The 111th Police Precinct, which is based in Bayside, includes the communities of Little Neck, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills and parts of Auburndale and Flushing.

While crime has dropped dramatically in the northeast Queens precinct in recent years, robbery, along with automobile thefts, have been consistent problems.

NYPD crime statistics, updated through Aug. 19, show that while reported incidents of robbery have declined by more than 50 percent in the last eight years, there has been a recent upswing in the crime category.

So far in 2001 102 robberies were reported in the 111th Precinct, according to crime statistics, a 12 percent increase from 2000 when 91 robberies were reported.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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Mindy Baron from Little Neck, NY says:
During the police chase, I had a police helicopter on top of my office for about 1/2 hour. It was very scary but worse for our neighbors at Chase bank. Thank Goodness nobody got hurt.
Dec. 5, 11:03 am

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