Prosecutors say two men posed as police officers and robbed a couple's home of their holiday presents on Christmas Eve.
The men wore bulletproof vests bearing the New York Police Department logo and claimed to have a warrant, the Queens district attorney's office said. They tied up Robert Kapovic and his wife and ransacked their home for nearly four hours, prosecutors said.
"They acted like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss classic 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas,'" District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Monday in a statement. "Unfortunately for them their plan was foiled when real police officers stopped them and the victims' belongings were returned in time for the holiday."
Kapovic was pistol-whipped, and his wife was pushed around and threatened with the prospect of never seeing her children again, prosecutors said.
The youngsters — ages 7, 3, 2 and 1 — apparently slept through the robbery, even as the attackers rifled through their bedrooms and took $4,000 cash, diamond jewelry, electronics and liquor from throughout the house, they said.
When the men left in the early hours of Dec. 24, the couple freed themselves, and Kapovic followed them in his car, using his onboard global positioning system to lead police to them, prosecutors said.
Authorities said they recovered the stolen property, police paraphernalia and two pellet guns.
Constantino Christo and Nicholas Papaleo pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on charges including burglary, robbery, assault, criminal impersonation and endangering the welfare of a child.