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Armed Mugger Targeting Upper West Siders at Their Homes

By  Tom Liddy and Emily Frost | April 9, 2013 4:15pm | Updated on April 10, 2013 7:42am

NEW YORK CITY — Ten Upper West Side residents have fallen victim to a brazen mugger, who followed them into their buildings and held them up with a knife or gun, police said.

The victims of the spree, which began in January, were generally young men or women living between 85th Street and 109th Street.

In most cases, the robber set on the victims in the evening or early morning hours and took cash, cellphones, jewelry and even a man's boots in one instance, as the targets stood in their lobbies or elevators.

According to cops, the mugger first struck on Jan. 21 at 788 Columbus Ave., near West 97th Street, taking the 24-year-old man's boots and cash. It's not clear if the victim was wearing the boots at the time.

He allegedly robbed three more people that month, including an 18-year-old boy whose cellphone was taken on Jan. 29 at West 78th Street and West End Avenue.

In the following weeks, police say he ripped off

-a 22- and 26-year-old women inside 330 W. 85th St., near West End Avenue, taking cellphones and cash on Feb. 5.

-a 25-year-old woman at 698 Amsterdam Ave., near West 94th Street, on Feb. 8, but he fled the scene with nothing

-a 32-year-old woman at 72 W. 88th St., near Columbus Avenue, taking jewelry on March 12.

The suspect struck most recently on March 24, when he held up a 24-year-old man at knifepoint inside 244 W. 109th St., near Broadway and took his cellphone, police said.

None of the victims were injured, police said.

Police say the suspect is 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-11, 130 to 170 pounds.

Annette Cantarella, 46, has lived at 788 Columbus Ave., which was targeted in late January, for eight years.

"I've never heard of anything like that," she said of the robbery, which also surprised her because she said the building has a doorman.

"I've never felt unsafe here," Cantarella said. 

The building is near the new Columbus Square development, a heavily trafficked retail and residential area, and in sight of the 24th Precinct's headquarters.

A little farther south, at 72 W. 88th St., Mercedes Caidav, 70, was also surprised by the robbery pattern. Her five-story building on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and a block away from City Councilwoman Gale Brewer's office, was hit in early March.

"This is a very good area," said the 30-year-resident of the building.

But Marcie Be, 56, who lives in the West 80s on Amsterdam Avenue, disagreed.

"It's getting kind of scary," Be said.

Be said after one of her neighborhood friends thought she was being followed, Be has taken extra precautions. 

"I walk my dog during the day now, never at night. I'm very conscious of my surroundings...this neighborhood is supposed to be safe," she said. 

Anyone with information 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 WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.