Brooklyn bandits arrested for robberies targeting high-end strippers


Two Queens strippers who flaunted their lifestyle on social media were targeted by two staunchly anti-social gunmen, prosecutors and sources said Friday.

One of the two well-to-do was the victim of home invasions in 2021 where the victims were tied up and guns pointed at children – with two robbers currently in custody, authorities have charged.

Details of the terrifying Queens apartment heist emerged with the arrests of the bandits who fled with $79,000 in cash in small denominations and $100,000 in high-end handbags on January 27, 2021 – then are returned for a second, less successful heist just nine days later, court documents said.

Romel Catoe, 32, a resident of Pennsylvania, and Mathew Sanchez, 29, of Brooklyn, were thwarted in their criminal recall when one of the children in the house dialed 911, with the bandits fleeing on arrival of the NYPD, according to prosecutors.

The suspects are said to have left behind a mobile phone during their escape, with authorities gathering details of the two thefts from the lost device.

Catoe was arrested Thursday in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and held by a Pennsylvania magistrate. Sanchez was already serving a drug conviction in the state of Oklahoma, with the two due in federal court in Brooklyn at a later date.

According to a source, the suspects hatched their plan after spotting the two strippers’ outlandish social media posts showing the pair with elaborate and expensive designer handbags.

The two exotic dancers are said to have attracted hundreds of thousands of online subscribers, including the two bandits.

An exchange of text messages the night of the first robbery showed Catoe replying “IDC” or “I don’t care” as the two robbers argued over whether the children were home.

“I’m ready ya like I’m ready ready,” Catoe texted a few minutes later. “Do we understand that?

The thieves targeted the residence of one of the strippers, who was in the Dominican Republic the night of the invasion, prosecutors wrote. The stripper’s husband and young children were at home, however. Surveillance footage of the incident shows the husband tied to the floor of the cluttered apartment, with a mask-wearing suspect brandishing a gun.

The thieves got away with at least 16 luxury bags in the robbery, ranging from a red Christian Dior handbag to a black Hermes handbag to a pair of pink Valentino handbags, officials said.

When the robbers returned for the second time – now familiar with the layout of the apartment – they ordered the stripper and her husband into the bathroom at gunpoint , where they were tied, prosecutors said. The bandits also allegedly pointed guns at the couples’ two children.

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Prosecutors said Catoe and Sanchez used “terrifying tactics.”

A source familiar with the matter said the two exotic dancers were not affiliated with any particular club, but performed at local venues and were well known online. The names of the strippers were not included in court documents.

Catoe was also charged with laundering money stolen from Queens through banks in and around Philadelphia, court documents show.

The defendants were charged in a Brooklyn indictment with conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to receive stolen property. Between Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, 2021, Catoe swapped thousands of dollars in small denominations for larger denominations at a bank near Philadelphia, authorities charged.

According to court documents arguing for Catoe’s detention, Brooklyn prosecutors cited text messages between the defendant and Sanchez in which the couple referred to the guns as “toys.”

And they noted that the couple had installed GPS tracking devices on the victims’ cars to track where the two women lived while keeping tabs on their social media activity.

Catoe “was prepared and undeterred by the likelihood that there would be innocent victims, including children, at (the) residence,” prosecutors said.


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