The manager of this MCN Distributors in Riverhead says he was forced at gunpoint to help robbers steal inventory from his store. The robbery lasted three hours, he said. (Credit: Paul Squire)
A manager at MCN Distributors in Riverhead was staying late at the office Tuesday night. He is usually the last person to leave the Main Road office, and that night he had more paperwork to do.
It was about 5:30 when the men, armed with a gun, burst in the unlocked door.
It was the beginning of what would be an hours-long ordeal at gunpoint that ended with the manager tied up, having been forced to load his inventory into one of his own trucks, which was stolen by the suspects.
“They were like professionals,” the manager, who asked not to be identified, told the News-Review. “They knew what they were doing.”
Riverhead police said the incident is still under investigation.
“Detectives are handling it,” said police Lt. David Lessard. “They are looking into all aspects of that story.”
The manager said the two men came in after-hours through the unlocked front door. He said he tends to keep the door unlocked, since he’s never had trouble in the 14 years of working at MCN.
The robbers ordered him to operate a forklift to load the company’s heating and air conditioning inventory into a company truck.
The manager loaded up one of his box trucks and when one of the robbers drove it away, the other remained, keeping him at gunpoint and demanding he ready more items.
“I was thinking about my wife and kids,” he said. “I didn’t want to get shot.”
The robber returned with a third man, the manager recalled. The manager said the robbers left three times with his truck, always coming back with it empty.
He said one of the men was dressed in camouflage; another wore a green sweater.
“Half of it is just a blur,” he said.
There is one thing he distinctly remembers about the robbers: their black Sketcher’s sneakers.
After loading up the truck for a fourth time, the robbers tied up the manager using wire sold in his shop. Then one of the men picked up a broken pallet and struck him across the face.
On Thursday, the manager pointed to the red mark on his left cheek. They didn’t have to hit him, the manager said.
“It’s like they hit me just for fun,” he said.
With the men gone, the manager struggled until he was able to get his feet out of the restraints. He said he dialed 911 with his tongue; his hands were still bound behind his back.
A police officer arrived on scene within minutes, the manager said. In all, the robbery lasted three hours.
Police later found the truck used in the robbery on Reeves Avenue near Doctors Path.
The robbery was reported not long after a man robbed the Damaris Multi Service, located at 725 East Main Street around 7:15 p.m. The suspect was described as wearing a ski mask and holding a handgun. Police have not said if the incidents are related.
The manager said the company had an alarm system, but it was only used when no one was in the office. He said MCN is planning upgrades to its security system.
He also said he won’t stay late at the office anymore.
“The paperwork can wait,” he said.