WEST NYACK – A Middletown man was arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing an Xbox after threatening a store clerk at the Palisades Center, a rare armed robbery in a mall otherwise plagued by nonviolent property crimes.
According to police Devon Thomas, 21, attempted to leave the Palisades Center Best Buy at around 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday with an Xbox in tow. When a sales associate asked for a receipt to verify that he purchased the item, Thomas allegedly brandished a black folding knife and told the associate, “Not today.”
The associate allowed Thomas to leave without incident, but followed him into the parking lot. After Clarkstown Police were alerted to the incident, they sent a description of the suspect to surrounding units. New York State Police used the information to identify and arrest Thomas on Route 17 in Monroe.
Thomas was transferred to Clarkstown, where he was processed and charged with first degree robbery, a felony. He was also charged with a slew of misdemeanors which include petit larceny, fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon, second degree menacing and fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property. Thomas is currently being held on $20,000 bail and is expected in court on May 19.
Due to a high volume of shoppers and security, armed robberies at the Palisades Center are relatively rare. Crimes such as shoplifting, fraud and identity theft are more commonly reported.
The last such incident occurred in 2010, when Mount Vernon resident Christopher Fountain, 29 of Mount Vernon, stormed the store with three accomplices, held nine employees at gunpoint and ordered the manager to empty over $16,000 from the store’s safe. Fountain was arrested, found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.