Repeat robberies have businesses in Harlem rethinking how they do business

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Monday, June 5, 2023
Small businesses fed up after rash of robberies in Harlem
A rash of robberies in Harlem has small businesses pushing for customers to pay with plastic and keeping less cash on hand.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- A rash of robberies in Harlem has some businesses pushing for customers to pay with plastic and keeping less cash on hand.

Emanuel Carrasco owns Just Smile Barbershop at 138th and Adam Clayton Powell.

He said a suspect used a brick to smash a window and then took an extremely heavy ATM -- which was loaded with cash.

"The same guy that came in here, I'm told by police he hit 10 to 13 businesses in three days," Carrasco said.

Across the street at Harlem Chocolate Factory, someone got in through the front window and walked away with wads of cash.

"We're not some huge business where that's coming out of the budget, that comes out of our pocket," owner Jessica Spaulding said.

This suspect dragged that ATM down the sidewalk.

Carrasco plans to put gates up on the windows and scale back on the amount of cash he keeps in the shop and will instead opt for payment systems like like Venmo, Apple Pay and Zelle, while also using credit card machines.

"We work hard and it may seem that because we work for 12 hours, we may have a pocketful of money, we don't want nobody to take the little change we work so hard for," Carrasco said.

The tricky part is by law, businesses in New York City must accept cash as a way of leveling of the playing field.

Those bucking the system could potentially face thousands in fines.

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