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Possible 1-Man 'Wrecking Crew' Responsible For Countless Destructive Robberies In Harlem

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police are searching for a crook, armed with a sledgehammer that is literally going through walls and ceilings to get what he wants.

He's hit 16 stores and the NYPD has jacked up its search after a possible 17th incident was reported on Thursday.

"So he's a thief that, everything that he knows valuable, where he knows that he can have access to make something, he's going to take it," store manager Adesh Maharajh told CBS 2's Pablo Guzman on Wednesday.

And when "Shoeprints" store manager Maharajh says the thief tries to "have access to make something," he means, the thief wants to grab and get away. Maharajh showed Guzman the basement, where the thief smashed through a wall to get in. It confirms what police are saying about the man seen on surveillance video: he is making his own "access."

"No, it's more than one guy. Well, you need someone to do the alarm while you're doing the register. And of course you need someone to look outside to see if anyone's coming," said Maria Munoz of "Upton" clothing.

Usually he cuts the surveillance cameras, but as Guzman found out, he missed this one. How bold is he? Check out what happened at Manna's Restaurant, where Guzman just happened to be when detectives showed up.

"The guy, he actually came in here, and ate like a fruit cup! He ate um … he buttered bread!" an employee said.

Then there's what went down at "A Taste of Seafood" a couple of blocks away. A building two doors over is under construction and police said the suspect used that. He took the tools that were left behind to break through a wall to get inside the seafood eatery. But then he kept going and broke through another wall, police said, to get into another room where he thought the money was.

In fact, he broke in on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and during a day last week, but each time there was no money.

"If you're breaking into a restaurant and stealing bread, I mean … times are hard on the boulevard, all right?" the restaurant employee said.

"The Boulevard" … 125th Street, where someone is still on the loose.

Police said 10 of the 16 burglaries have occurred on 125th Street. All have been in Harlem and East Harlem.

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