UPDATED: 12:38 EST, 22 August 2012
The New York City Police Department has collared two brazen burglars who robbed a cash-checking store in Queens disguised as cops, thanks to their polite letter of appreciation to their unwitting mask maker.
Officials say Edward Byam, 24, and Akeem Monsalvatge, 37, of Queens, dressed in NYPD gear and wearing high-end masks, robbed a Pay-O-Matic in Rosedale on Valentine’s Day.
After getting away with the heist, Byam wrote a short thank you note to Composite Effects, the makers of the mask, to show his gratitude for the ‘realism’ of the disguise.
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Masked: The New York City Police Department has collared two brazen burglars who robbed a cash-checking store in Queens disguised as cops, thanks to their polite letter of appreciation to the mask maker.
Unmasked: Officials say Edward Byam and Akeem Monsalvatge, right, of Queens, dressed in NYPD gear and wearing high-end masks, robbed a Pay-O-Matic in Rosedale on Valentine’s Day
They identified themselves as detectives at the store, wearing dark blue jackets with NYPD logos and police-type shields hanging around their necks, before making off with the contents of an unlocked safe. Police say the two men stole $200,000 from the store.
Thick gloves covered their skin completely, and dark glasses hid their eyes, making it near impossible to identify them. They even threatened a female store worker with photographs of her home, making sure she knew how serious they were.
‘We don’t know if they are white, black or Hispanic. People in the neighbourhood saw them in the van for two or three days before the robbery,’ a police spokesman said at the time. ‘They saw three white guys.’
The police then traced the photograph of the clerk’s home to a nearby Walgreen’s and were able to get Byam’s home phone number on a receipt.
Thanks to an anonymous tip, the NYPD zeroed in on Composite Effects, a company that makes masks similar to the ones the criminals used.
They contacted the company which then supplied them with an email from Byam.
It appears they purchased the ‘Mac the Guy’ model with customized hair designs for upwards of $600.
‘Whether you want an ordinary Joe, a handsome man or a blank palette to let your imagination take over for our many customization options, Mac is sure to be perfect for several occasions,’ the company’s website says about the mask.
Customized: The customized mask model used in the heist costs well over $500
Stash: The two made away with $200,000 in pilfered funds
‘Mac is designed for ultimate human realism in face and neck movement anatomy.’
The company told the MailOnline said that their products are ‘intended for entertainment purposes only.’
‘The person who purchased the masks gave no indication of any intentions to use the product for illegal purposes,’ CFX owner Wes Branton told the MailOnline.
‘I’m sending this message to say I’m extremely pleased by CFX work on the mask. The realism of the mask is unbelievable.’
‘Customer privacy is important to us, but we will cooperate with law enforcement if criminal activity is involved.’
They were arrested in August 21 and the two appeared in court today on charges of armed robbery and impersonating an officer and were held without bond.
Monsalvatge had alleged robbing another Pay-O-Matic in Queens, on Sept. 10, 2010. On Facebook, he lists his occupation as ‘venture capitalist.’
‘The invidual [sic] has always had to struggle from bein[sic] overwhelmed by the tribe. If u try it you will be lonely often, and sumtimes[sic] frightened. But no price is too high to pay for owning yourself,’ he wrote on his profile.
If the trio were wearing masks the stunt would imitate a London bank robbery, Britain’s biggest ever, when £40m was robbed from the exclusive Grafts in Mayfair.
The two crooks hired a professional make-up artist to disguise them using liquid latex, at a cost of £450 ($720), reportedly under the pretense that the four-hour transformation was for a pop video.
- Life-like latex masks are widely available on the internet
- They range in cost from around $50 for basic masks to over $800.
- Optional extras are available including latex gloves at a cost of $569.95.
‘It is possible for someone to use a silicone mask in a situation like this. These masks are highly convincing, particularly for short term encounters such as the robbery incident. Obviously, our mask are intended for entertainment purposes only.’ Wes Branton, Composite Effects
Cost: Cheaper options include this one which costs around $50.
Pricey: The most expensive masks cost more than $800.
Creepy: The most realistic masks have wrinkles and lines. This one costs $629.95.
Life like: You can even buy latex gloves. They cost $569.95.