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Police accuse 18-year-old of robberies at two Cape Vincent businesses

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CAPE VINCENT — State police and Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies arrested an 18-year-old who allegedly stole more than $900 in cash, a bottle of vodka and a packet of cigarettes from two village businesses Friday morning.

Law enforcement officials said Rafael E. Cabrera Jones, 18, held up Cape Dairy and Cape Vincent Liquor Store. He was charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and was being held by the sheriff’s department pending arraignment in Town Court.

He had been staying with his father at 544 East Broadway after arriving from Puerto Rico about a week ago.

Maryellen Glass with Cape Dairy on East Broadway and Robert A. Ewing, the owner of Cape Vincent Liquor Store on Lee Street, said the suspect wore a ski mask, held them at gunpoint and demanded cash. Police said there were no customers in either store at the time.

“I don’t argue with a gun,” Mr. Ewing said. “I’m glad the police did a great job.”

The gun turned out to be a starting pistol used for track racing that Mr. Cabrera Jones allegedly had taken from his father, and police tracked the young man down at his father’s residence Friday afternoon.

The suspect went to Cape Dairy first and pulled out the starting pistol while Ms. Glass was grabbing a pack of Newport cigarettes for him, police said. After taking about $300 in cash, he headed to the liquor store, they said.

“It’s 30 below out there today,” Ms. Glass said. “Him having a ski mask didn’t worry me at first.”

Mr. Ewing said Cape Dairy called to give him a heads-up before the man reached his store. He said that when the suspect did not remove his ski mask upon entering the store, he began to feel uneasy.

“I was surprised. I never thought something like this would happen,” he said.

The man entered his store and asked for a small bottle of Barton vodka. While he was bent down to grab the item, the suspect pulled out the pistol and demanded cash and Mr. Ewing’s wallet, he said.

Mr. Ewing said the robber took more than $600.

“I’m just glad no one got hurt,” he said. “In Cape Vincent, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

Though village Police Chief Thomas S. Strejlau said similar incidents have occurred in the village, he too was surprised.

“It is unusual,” Mr. Strejlau said. “Not expected, for sure.”

Police were at the scene five minutes later and started tracing the suspect’s footprints in the snow.

“It was good police work, following some footsteps and following some leads,” Jefferson County sheriff’s Detective David J. Pustizzi said.

Mr. Cabrera Jones admitted to the crimes and surrendered without incident, police said. Village and state police as well as Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies were involved in the case.

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