Following the third in a series of brazen Uptown business robberies, including two restaurants, the Louisiana Restaurant Association donated $5,000 toward a Crimestoppers reward.
The total reward, now at a combined $30,000, was announced Tuesday morning during a press conference in which authorities asked that anyone with any information on the suspects come forward. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite were joined by New Orleans City Council members and Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at the event.
Calling the crimes a “conspiracy,” Landrieu said city authorities are combining their efforts to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the robberies. If the three robberies are connected, Polite said, the suspects could face federal prosecution.
[jump] The latest armed robbery was reported Monday evening, after three suspects wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts robbed several people inside Monkey Hill Bar (6100 Magazine St., 504-899-4800).
According to police, the suspects rushed the Magazine Street bar shortly before 10:30 p.m. One of the gunmen jumped over the counter and forced the bartender to empty the register, and the other two suspects demanded that bar patrons put their wallets on the counter and get on the floor. The victims, which authorities estimated to be six people, complied and the suspects fled the scene.
The robbery is similar to incidents at Atchafalaya and Patois, where diners and employees at both restaurants were robbed of their belongings by masked, armed intruders during dinner service. Atchafalaya was robbed by two masked gunmen on Sept. 24 shortly before 10 p.m. Roughly a month earlier, three masked men stormed Patois around 11 p.m., forcing the customers and employees on the floor before stealing their wallets and cellphones and fleeing the scene.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Harrison acknowledged the similarities between the incidents but said there is insufficient evidence to link the crimes.
Landrieu says he will meet with members of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the New Orleans Conventions and Visitors Bureau Tuesday to address the robberies and discuss precautions business owners can take.
“Because New Orleans is such a beloved town for food and specifically a destination for food tourism it is imperative that these individuals are apprehended as quickly as possible to prevent this from happening again,” said Wendy Waren, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Restaurant Association.
Waren says the organization works with members on crime prevention tools, including tips on how to run a restaurant safely.
"Criminals look for two things when selecting a target: lots of cash and an easy getaway," Waren said, adding that making sure the building is equipped with proper lighting, surveillance cameras and minimal landscaping all help to make restaurants less of a target for criminals.
For a complete list of safety tips from the organization, visit the LRA website here.