Customer helps stop robbery


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A woman on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is proving not all heroes wear capes – and some go shopping.

CBS2’s John Dias explains how a boutique worker has her customer to thank for her safety.

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It started off as a seemingly innocent conversation late Saturday morning, with someone who 18-year-old Charlotte Dow thought was a customer at her mom’s Upper West Side boutique Laina Jane. But the fake purchase quickly became pandemonium – the store was getting robbed.

The incident was caught on surveillance video.

“And then all of a sudden he starts going behind the counter… and then he cornered me in,” Dow said. “And my phone was out of reach.”

(credit: CBS2)

She was working all alone.

“Give me all your money, and shut the [expletive] up or else I’ll kill you,” the suspect said.

“I was panicking. I never been in that sort of position before,” Dow said.

When she told him the store didn’t take cash, he threatened her again.

“Stop playing, I’ll kill you girl,” the suspect said.

The suspect locked her in a back bathroom of the store.

“You open the door, I’ll shoot your [expletive],” he said.

“I just thought, my mom is going to come in any second. I just have to hold on for a little bit longer, or just wait for a customer to come in,” Dow said.

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Her hopes became a reality. As the man rummaged through the store, a customer was outside shopping, then made her way inside not realizing she was walking in on a robbery. Dow then screamed for help.

“We are being robbed, call 911!” she said.

“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” said the suspect.

“Did you think ‘Oh no, he’s going to harm this woman?’” asked Dias.

“I was unsure to call out because I wasn’t sure if he was going to throw that woman into the bathroom with me,” Dow said. “I wasn’t even like sure if that woman was like, going to, like, help me or anything, or just would run out.”

But it was the suspect that then fled, and the customer stayed.

“This wave of relief rushed over me,” Dow said.

“Is he still there?” Dow asked the customer in the video.

“No, come out,” she replied. “Lock your door. Don’t be afraid, I’ll protect you.”

Police are still searching for the suspect, asking the public’s help in identifying him.

As for Dow, she’s OK. She still plans on working at the store. She’s hoping to see the customer-turned-hero often in the area, since she lives around here.

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Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.