A series of shootings at Big Apple smoke shops has cops beefing up resources to deal with what has become a “citywide problem,” The Post has learned.
Police in every precinct are now instructed to make a list of smoke shops in their areas and give them “special attention,” sources said.
“The problem is you have to keep changing the list because new shops turn up overnight,” said a Queens cop, adding, “it is a double win for criminals, they get both cash and marijuana.”
Police wouldn’t quantify how many incidents have cropped up at city smoke shops, but a source said it seems like there is a robbery “every day,” be it the store or the customers going in and out.
Authorities estimate there are more than 100 of the stores in Midtown alone — and their numbers keep growing.
“When we see an empty storefront, we guess how soon it will take for a smoke shop to open up,” snarked a Manhattan cop.
In the latest attack, a man was pistol-whipped, robbed and shot inside a Myrtle Avenue smoke shop in Brooklyn late Friday night, cops said.
Two men entered the 477 News & Tobacco store at 477 Myrtle Ave., near Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, shortly before 11:30 p.m. and shot the victim in the head during the confrontation, police said. The man, 48, was taken to Methodist Hospital in stable condition, authorities said. The robbers made off with $4,600, police said.
On Saturday, a cop was stationed at the store, which sells cigarettes, cigars and Lotto tickets as well as vapes, rolling papers, and smoking pieces, such as bowls and pipes.
On Monday, the NYPD released a video in which two bandits threatened Brooklyn smoke shop workers with a hammer and punched one before snatching up hundreds of dollars in cash and CBD products.
The pair entered the Hubble Bubble smoke shop on Avenue P near East Fourth Street in Midwood just after 11 a.m. on Feb. 2, cops said. The duo got away with about $150 in cash and CBD products valued at around $800, police said.
About a month earlier on Jan. 4, a Lower East Side smoke shop worker was shot in a possible attempted robbery, police said. Three armed suspects entered Exotic Convenience at 79 Clinton St. around 6:40 p.m. as one of the men opened fire, striking the employee in the lower back, according to the NYPD. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, according to authorities.
On Dec. 3, armed robbers made off with $10,000 from a Queens tobacco store, police said. And months earlier on Sept. 25, a Manhattan smoke-shop employee was shot when he confronted three robbers outside his store, authorities said.
The 35-year-old worker was inside the Orchard Smoke Shop on Orchard Street near East Houston Street on the Lower East Side just after 10:30 p.m. when the trio swiped about $12,000 in merchandise and around $300 in cash, police said.
As the bandits left, the worker went outside and confronted them, cops said. During the clash, one of the suspects shot the worker in the torso and arm, cops said. The victim survived.
On Aug. 8, a good Samaritan tried to intervene when four robbers stuck up his pal’s Upper West Side store and ended up shot in the foot, cops said.
And on April 15, two crooks pulled a gun on clerks at the Zaza Exotics smoke shop in Brooklyn and made off with $1,000 cash and $4,800 worth of CBD liquid, cops said.
For now, each precinct is dealing with their own smoke shop problems.
“Customers can’t buy marijuana with a credit, so it is a cash business,” said a Brooklyn source.
Added another Manhattan cop: “Now we have crime prevention cops visiting smoke shops, but unless they are reporting a crime they don’t want to talk to the police.”
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