Armed suspect hides in closet to rob restaurant

Photo: WPRI / Steve Nielsen

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – Police are looking for an armed suspect who lingered at a restaurant past hours – just to rob it.

New Bedford Police say an armed and masked man hid in a closet at Cork Wine and Tapas Bar, a restaurant on Front Street, and emerged once the place was closed for the night.

“This is a wake-up call not only to ourselves but (to) other business owners, property owners and the city,” said co-owner Jason Lanagan.

Detectives say the robbery happened early Monday morning around 1:30 a.m.

An employee said she was closing up for the night and went to the second floor, where she saw a man come out of the closet dressed in all black with his face covered. The woman said the suspect was holding a black gun and ordered her to open up the safe.

The suspect then allegedly ordered the employee to get into the closet he emerged from and put a chair up against the door. The woman told detectives she pushed her way out once she heard it was quiet and believed the man had left.

Cork is housed in a renovated building from the early days of the Whaling City, and Lanagan said it has been incident free for years.

“The main thing is no one got hurt. It’s scary – it’s a shock – but no one got hurt,” he said.

Lanagan said he wants to make sure a similar situation doesn’t happen in the area again. He told Eyewitness News he has been pitching to have more lighting installed in the city.

While there are plenty of streetlights, Lanagan said he hopes the city will add more lighting near abandoned properties. He also is calling for more surveillance.

“Can we use this as a catalyst to provide some of these enhancements? Now is certainly the time to do it,” he said.

Inside his building, Lanagan said new cameras and lights have recently been installed.

“It’s business as usual. We’ve taken the necessary measures to mitigate any deficiencies we had internally and we’re just pushing forward,” he said.

New Bedford Police are looking to track down the suspect. Anyone with information on this armed robbery can leave an anonymous tip with detectives at (508) 991-6300 ext. 79519.

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