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Thieves Pistol Whip Central Park Hotel Staff During Robbery, NYPD Says

By  Ellen  Moynihan and Aidan Gardiner | March 16, 2016 10:11am | Updated on March 16, 2016 10:58am

 Three men robbed the Rodeway Inn on West 71st Street Wednesday morning, police said.
Three men robbed the Rodeway Inn on West 71st Street Wednesday morning, police said.
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DNAinfo/Ellen Moynihan

UPPER WEST SIDE — Three masked-men pistol whipped staff members of a hotel near Central Park before stealing their wallets and phones Wednesday morning, police said.

Rodeway Inn front desk clerk George Bolzoni, 25, who was beaten during the theft, said that the hotel's electrical system began acting erratically just before the crime went down.

He said that the lights went out and people became trapped in the elevator at the budget hotel, located at 31 W. 71st St., just half a block from the park about 7:20 a.m.

The hotel manager and another staffer went down to the basement to check the breaker, Bolzoni said.

When the lights flickered for another 30 minutes and the staffers had not returned from the basement, hotel housekeeper Patrick Thomas, 49, and a co-worker went downstairs to investigate, he told reporters.

Thomas heard no answer when he knocked on the break room door, he said.

Suddenly, a masked man grabbed him by the neck and tossed him against the wall and onto the floor before covering his mouth and telling him to be quiet, Thomas said.

"Yeah, it was scary because I have two daughters. The youngest is 10. I don't want someone to kill me," he said.

The suspects took his wallet, phone and radio before fleeing, he said.

Once they were gone, Thomas got up and looked around, finding his manager and colleague lying on the floor with black zip ties binding their hands and feet, he said.

Thomas cut them free and they told him they were beaten for refusing to give the thieves access to the safe, he said. The suspects pistol-whipped them and stole their phones and wallets, police said. 

The staffers were treated at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for minor injuries, police said.

Bolzoni surveyed the basement after the attack, he said.

"When I went downstairs, it was just blood and zip ties," he said.

The suspects hadn't been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Staff suspected that it may have been an inside job.

"You don't just walk into a building and know where everything is," Bolzoni said.

Hotel guests were shocked by Wednesday morning's violence, including Josef Krizenecky, 42, who is visiting from Prague with his wife.

"I've heard other parts of the city are dangerous, like Queens, but not Manhattan," Krizenecky said.

Neighbors however weren't surprised.

"There's always police here. There's always something going on. There were always problems with the building. It's cheap," said Jackie Hasaimoto, who lives on the block.

"This block is a beautiful block and it's quiet. And then you have these transient people that just don't care. It's not the right neighborhood for it," Hasiamoto added.