The Roomba burrito cart at Elm and York streets was robbed Thursday at about 7 p.m., according to the cart’s owners and people present at the scene of the incident.
Roomba co-owner Arturo Franco-Camacho said that Josefat Perez, a worker for the Roomba burrito cart, was robbed at gunpoint but was not harmed in the incident. New Haven Police officers authorized to speak to the press could not be reached to confirm details of the incident last night.
Though Franco-Camacho said the robbers made away with the whole day’s earnings, he said he was relieved that Perez escaped unscathed.
“He’s scared, of course,” Franco-Camacho said. “Anyone who gets robbed or put out of their element will be shocked.”
The alleged robbery has generated a significant amount of sympathy from students who live in the area and frequent the cart.
Gerald McElroy ’09, a Davenport College resident and frequent burrito cart customer, said he was sad and surprised to hear about the robbery, which occurred in a populated area at a relatively early time at night.
“It’s shocking, because all the other incidents of violence around Yale haven’t taken place in such proximity to where I live,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t discourage [Roomba] from getting back out on the street in the near future.”
Wally Weisser, the supplier of the flower stand across the street from the burrito cart, also said he was struck that by the fact that the robbery had taken place at such a prominent location. The cart is located behind Sterling Memorial Library and around the corner from Trumbull College.
“I was surprised that someone would actually have the nerve to pull a gun out on this corner,” he said.
Roomba tells its workers to cooperate if they are ever robbed in order to avoid potential violence, Franco-Camacho said.
Some nearby vendors suggested that the cart’s cash be kept under lock and key, but Franco-Camacho said he does not want to hurt sales by not having correct change easily available.
“I think around that area we ought to be vigilant,” he said. “We can all do our part.”
Although no arrests have been confirmed by police officials, Suzette Franco-Camacho, co-owner of Roomba, said she saw suspicious behavior around noon that she thinks might be related to the evening’s robbery. She said she suspected that two men in their twenties, whom she had seen leaning on a stone wall about five feet away from the burrito cart, could have been responsible for the crime.
“I didn’t recognize them,” Suzette Franco-Camacho said. “They were standing behind the guys making the food. They were very tall, probably over six feet tall, wearing baseball caps. They didn’t seem familiar to me or to those guys.”
Roomba officials declined to state how much money was stolen from the cart, but they said the cart will be open tomorrow at its normal time.
Weisser was present at the time of the robbery. He said he did not see the robbery as it occurred, but he thinks he may have seen the robber on his way to the cart.
“I think I do recall some … guy coming over and almost running me over with a bike,” Weisser said.
While the area falls in the jurisdiction of the Yale Police Department, eyewitnesses said they saw NHPD vehicles at the scene of the crime.