Editorial: Time to rein in sales people and promo events in Flatiron

At Times Square, grabby costumed characters are finally being kept under control to some degree thanks to the addition of commercial activity zones where Elmo and Minnie can still hassle tourists for tips as well as new pedestrian flow zones where they cannot go and passersby are to be left alone.

However, Times Square is hardly the only neighborhood that’s been overrun by mercenary individuals. These days, Flatiron also comes pretty close, at least at the pedestrian plazas. If the weather’s nice, you can pretty much guarantee that any attempt to head over to Madison Square Park or one of the umbrella-shaded seats on the plaza will be impeded by people asking you about your hair, whether you like comedy or if you’d like to try a sample of something from a booth. Or all of the above. If it’s at least the latter case, this is because the city’s rented out part of the plaza to a company for promotional purposes. In the other cases, it’s because sales people love to stand in high-traffic areas so they can accost people on their lunch breaks.

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Police looking for two men behind separate patterns of bank robberies

HSBC and Apple Bank robbery suspect

HSBC and Apple Bank robbery suspect

Police are on the lookout for two bank robbers believed to be responsible for different heists in Union Square, Flatiron and other neighborhoods.

With regards to the first suspect, on Wednesday, September 9 around 2:10 p.m., a man walked into the HSBC Bank located at 80 Eighth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets in Chelsea, approached a teller and demanded money. However, the teller refused and the man fled empty handed.

At 2:35 p.m., the same man walked into the Union Square Apple Bank located at 4 Irving Place and East 14th Street, approached a teller and demanded money. This time the teller complied and the suspect fled with an undetermined amount of cash.

The suspect has been described as a thin black male, 30 to 40 years old and 6’2″ tall.

Chase and HSBC Bank robbery suspect

Chase and HSBC Bank robbery suspect

Police are also looking for another man they believe to be behind three separate bank robberies, in Times Square, Chelsea and most recently, the Flatiron District.

The pattern is as follows:

On Friday, September 4, at around 12:40 p.m., the suspect walked into a Chase Bank at 615 8th Avenue and 40th Street, approached a teller and passed a note demanding cash. He then fled with $2,850.

On Tuesday, September 8 at approximately 5:10 p.m., the same man walked into a different Chase Bank at 475 West 23rd Street and 10th Avenue and slipped the teller another demand note. This time he fled empty-handed.

The next day, on Wednesday, September 9 at around 2:15 p.m., the suspect was back at it, at an HSBC Bank at 145 5th Avenue and West 21st Street. After handing a teller a demand note, he got away with $1,992.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’3″ tall, 195 lbs. and in his 30s.

Anyone with information about any of these incidents is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at http://www.crimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.