Police Arrest Suspects In String Of Robberies

By Arielle Dollinger

adollinger@longislandergroup.com

 

Suffolk Chief of Detectives William Madigan at a press conference today points to mug shots of Andrew Berger and Commack resident Matthew McGurk, who are suspected of robbing several gas stations and doughnut shops since Dec. 22. 

Suffolk Chief of Detectives William Madigan at a press conference today points to mug shots of Andrew Berger and Commack resident Matthew McGurk, who are suspected of robbing several gas stations and doughnut shops since Dec. 22. 

Suffolk County police have arrested two men in connection with a string of gas station and doughnut shop robberies in Suffolk County, including three locations in the Town of Huntington.

Matthew McGurk, 25, of Commack, and Andrew Berger, 27, of Williston Park were arrested as they were apparently trying to pull off another heist at a Dunkin Donuts in Blue Point on Jan. 14, police said.

Detectives with the Pattern Crimes unit had Berger under surveillance when he entered the Dunkin Donuts just after 9 p.m., officials said. A detective who followed him into the store found Berger was armed and wearing a ski mask. The suspect turned and pointed the weapon at the detective who, while struggling to find cover, fired a total of six shots, Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke said.

No one was hit.

McGurk was arrested nearby the store, where police found him waiting in a getaway car.

Police said the men are heroin addicts who carried out a string of burglaries across Suffolk County over the past several weeks. Police found a needle on one of the suspects the night of their arrest, Madigan said during a press conference announcing the arrests. Each robbery netted the pair between $300 and $1,000, he added.     

Police would not elaborate on how they know the men are addicts, but a spokesman said Wednesday night they are confident in the claim.

In the earliest robberies, detectives said the men would enter the business together. In later cases, Berger, who has a 2009 conviction for armed robbery, would enter and rob the business while McGurk stood by in the getaway vehicle, according to police.

The burglary string began in Deer Park on the night of Dec. 22, police said. The pair next hit a gas station in West Hills on Christmas day, then struck in St. James on Dec. 26. They carried out two robberies in one day on Dec. 29, hitting businesses in Smithtown and Commack; robbed a location in Deer Park on Jan. 1 and a gas station in Huntington Station a day later. Between Jan. 3 and 8 they hit four more businesses in Holbrook, Bohemia, Farmingville and Sayville, according to police.

Over the course of the investigation, Madigan said, Pattern Crime detectives kept surveillance on “a number of potential suspects.” Some of them were eliminated as suspects because they were under surveillance by detectives while robberies were occurring elsewhere, he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the crime spree highlights a larger issue.

“These crimes did not happen in a vacuum,” he said. “They are related to a larger issue that is something we face in this county and, quite frankly, across our country. That is the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.”