Wantagh businesses react to series of robberies

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Some stores and banks in Wantagh are on higher alert following a series of robberies in Nassau County last week, two of which took place in Wantagh.

On Oct. 3, an unidentified man robbed the TD Bank at 200 Wantagh Ave in Wantagh. A Nassau County Police Department report stated that at approximately 11:44 a.m., the man approached a bank teller and passed her a note demanding cash. She complied, giving him an undisclosed amount of money, and he left the bank and ran west to Jerusalem Avenue, according to the report. The NCPD’s Crime Scene Search Unit responded to the scene, but as of press time on Monday, there had been no arrests.

Just two days later, a Wyandanch man was arrested after he robbed the same bank. A police report stated that Joseph Mann, 49, approached a teller, jumped over a counter and remove an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing. Mann, who was later arrested and charged with two counts of robbery and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, had allegedly robbed a TD Bank in New Cassel earlier that day.

Deborah Trivigno, co-owner of Frank & Fran’s Showcase Jewelers, across Jerusalem Avenue from the TD Bank, said she heard about the two robberies, and was surprised. “I think it’s unusual to see a robbery in the area, or at all,” she said. “I thought we were kind of past that.”

Luckily, Trivigno said, the store has plenty of security cameras outside. The doors are locked at all times, and shoppers must be buzzed in at the front door. If employees have any concerns about anyone who enters, Trivigno said, all other employees are alerted.

James Ladolce, assistant vice president and brand manager at Investors Bank’s Wantagh branch, in the CherryWood Shopping Center, said the bank was continuing to follow standard procedures in the wake of the thefts. “To my knowledge, we all have our procedures, policies and security measures, and we follow them,” Ladolce said. “We are just more aware of our surroundings, and we watch who’s coming in and out. That’s really all you can do.”

Ladolce, a former TD Bank employee, said that Investors Bank didn’t have a lockdown procedure in the case of a neighboring robbery. If it happens, it just puts “everybody on higher alert,” he said.

The thefts in Wantagh were not related to another bank robbery that occurred at a TD Bank in Bethpage on Oct. 6, police said. Philip Ferrito, 40 of Smithtown, was arrested that day, according to police reports.

County Legislator John Ferretti Jr., a Republican who represents District 15 and is seeking re-election, said the series of robberies was “very alarming.” “These aren’t in my district, but they’re around my district, so my constituents go to all these banks, and they were concerned,” Ferretti said in an interview with the Herald last week.

Ferretti noted that under the law, unless a bank robber indicates that he has a weapon or displays a weapon, he is released after his arrest with an appearance ticket.   

New York state officials passed the Bail Elimination Act in 2019, which was amended in July 2020. According to the law, unarmed robberies are exempt from bail, but burglaries and robberies that involve weapons or injuries can lead to bail against the suspect.

A manager at the TD Bank on Wantagh Avenue declined to comment on the robberies.