Less than a week after ending a string of armed store robberies with the , Bethlehem police were confronted Wednesday with yet another in the city.
But the fifth robbery of a city establishment in the past 12 days was far different than the first four – all late-night holdups of 7-Elevens.
At a little after noon, a pair of gunmen brashly walked into , 512 Main St., tied up store employees and took jewelry and cash. They then casually stepped back outside to mix with a sun-splashed lunch crowd that sipped coffee at or ate lunch at Tapas on the same block.
“Awfully brazen,” said Mayor John Callahan, who predicted that the suspects would be captured quickly. Video evidence has already been gathered, more is being collected and fingerprints were also found at the scene, the mayor said.
The stolen jewelry will also be very difficult for the robbers to fence, the mayor said. Pieces sold at Dancing Designs are handcrafted, unique and catalogued by the owner.
“I’m very confident we’re going to catch these guys,” Callahan said. “We’re putting all of our resources behind it. We’re going to make examples out of them.”
Councilman Robert Donchez, chairman of council's Public Safety Committee, said that he still believes that the city’s downtown is “very safe,” and called the mid-day robbery “very, very unusual.”
Councilman David DiGiacinto wondered whether bringing back cops on walking beat patrols to the downtown would be a deterrent from these sorts of incidents. “I don’t know if it’s practical,” he said.
The suspects in the Dancing Designs robbery are described as dark-skinned black men:
Suspect One: In his 40s wearing a white mesh shirt, white sneakers, shorter black hair, blue New York Yankees baseball hat with a white bill.
Suspect Two: A younger male, longer hair, wearing purple/turquoise polo shirt with stripes, dark colored hat, blue jeans, possibly white sneakers.
Anyone with information about the robbery or the suspects is asked to call Bethlehem Police at 610-865-7187.
Main Street merchants are being asked to provide any photos or video from surveillance cameras at their businesses.
The four suspects in the 7-Eleven robberies are all in Northampton County Prison awaiting preliminary hearings. Three of them were actually caught while the group was attempting to make its fifth robbery in the city in the early morning hours of July 18.
The teens are also accused of a robbery of a convenience store in Palmer Township and two robberies in Allentown. They are:
- Isaiah Barker, 17, of 725A Ramblewood Lane, Freemansburg
- Ashley Horning, 17, of 1345 Beverly Ave., Bethlehem
- Luis Enrique Ortiz, 19, of 618 Atlantic St., Bethlehem
- Ashley Eskaff, 17, of 1919 Catasauqua Road, Bethlehem
All of them are being charged as adults.