Syracuse police: Scam artists steal $40,000 by distracting clerk

Surveillance footage shows shocking video of a "distraction" robbery in Syracuse.

Authorities say a group of nine people swarmed a small Northside neighborhood grocery store and stole nearly $40,000 by distracting the clerk and blocking her view.

Syracuse police believe the thieves are a roving band of scam artists who target small stores with few employees.

"I feel very bad. I come here every day," said Bien Nyugen who is a family friend of the owners and shops at A-Chau often. The grocery store is located in the 900 block of North Salina street, across the street from Union Park and a few blocks up from St. Joseph's Hospital.

Authorities say the group made off with $38,000 from the Vietnamese grocery store on Saturday night. The store's surveillance video shows several men and women milling about while others lure the lone employee away from the cash register and block her in an aisle.

"This is very well orchestrated, they know exactly what they're doing. They've probably done it dozens of times," said Syracuse Police Sgt. Tom Connellan.

The video shows one person slipping behind the counter and searching around. Others are seen stuffing merchandise into their clothing.

It's not only a loss for the Northside store but the Vietnamese families who shop there, too. Police say part of the reason why there was so much cash on hand is because the business helped local families send money to support their loved ones in Vietnam.

Police say it's difficult to catch the criminals because they are transient, and often travel quickly. "We have good pictures of them, but they may hit up a store in Canada or the next state over so sometimes it's hard to connect the dots," said Sgt. Connellan.

Click on the video link to watch the video. A

nyone who recognizes any of the suspects is asked to call Syracuse police at 442-5222.