Sometimes, too much traffic can be a good thing.
In this case, it was a massive traffic jam on a typical Saturday afternoon on the Major Deegan Expressway that enabled Yonkers police officers — with the aid of the New York Police Department’s 50th Precinct — to catch two men who they say robbed a smartphone store in Riverdale’s northern neighbor.
The robbery at a Sprint Mobile store at 622 Yonkers Ave., ended in a high-speed chase Aug. 12 that ended in the arrest of Sean Austin and Braulio Moncion, according to federal officials.
The two Bronx men allegedly robbed the store at gunpoint, according to the U.S. Justice Department, taking cellphones and car keys from two store employees as well as several cellphones from the stores inventory.
Before taking off, Austin and Moncion ordered both employees to stay in the bathroom while they took off in one of the worker’s car.
But it didn’t take long for Yonkers police to locate the car and start a chase that made its way onto the Deegan. The chase continued some seven miles into Bronx County, according to the justice department, before the infamous New York City traffic practically stopped them in their tracks.
“The two guys bailed out and ran around the parking lot (of Broadway Plaza mall) and into that construction site there,” Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole of the 50th Precinct said.
Yonkers police, who chased the suspected robbers into the Bronx, shut down the intersection as they searched for the men who bailed from the car. It wasn’t long, however, before both Mancion and Austin were arrested, carrying a gun police say was used in the robbery.
The chase was enough to bring federal charges against both men, who were accused of violating the Hobbs Act, designed to protect interstate commerce. Apparently, the phones authorities say were taken from the store had just been delivered from Chicago. Because of that, they’re viewed as an interstate commerce.
A typical robbery, listed as a violent felony, carried a minimum sentence of a little more than five years. But a Hobbs Act robbery, officials said, carries a penalty of up to 20 years.
By law, Yonkers police have the right to chase any suspect outside their jurisdiction without any notification. However, dispatchers in Yonkers reached out to the 50th during the chase, and both departments were able to work together in capturing the accused robbers.
“They don’t have do, but they usually do,” O’Toole said. “We have all kinds of communication things back and forth.”