Would-be good Samaritans inadvertently allow robbery suspect to escape

Two people driving down West Front Street together on Monday morning apparently thought they were doing the right thing when they leaped out of their vehicle and rushed to the defense of what appeared to be a man assaulting a woman, authorities said.

There was just one problem: The woman actually had just robbed the man with whom she was tussling, and the would-be good Samaritans inadvertently allowed her to get away, according to city Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig.

The female suspect remained at large as of late Monday.

“The two (passing motorists) were not involved (in the robbery),” Hellwig said. “They were released and have not been charged.”

About 12:30 a.m. Monday, police responding to a report of a robbery in progress on the 500 block of West Front Street found the victim, a 26-year-old male who lives nearby, authorities explained. The victim reported that he was attacked by an unknown female as he was walking down the street, then robbed of about $400 in cash and a gold chain valued at about $500, according to Hellwig.

The victim said he tried to prevent his assailant from leaving the area, engaging her in a physical struggle, when the passing motorists apparently intervened, restraining him but not assaulting him, Hellwig said. The female suspect, spotting an opening, turned and ran, first trying unsuccessfully to hail a taxi before running down Plainfield Avenue, according to the investigation.

The victim attempted to pursue but soon lost sight of her, Hellwig added. After police arrived, the man provided a description of the motorists’ vehicle — a small, white Honda — and a vehicle matching that description was pulled over shortly thereafter.

The would-be good Samaritans, a 21-year-old city male and a 26-year-old city female, then relayed their story to investigators. Elements of the story were confirmed when video surveillance footage from a nearby gas station was located and reviewed, Hellwig said, adding that the entire situation was complicated by the fact that the victim was intoxicated and spoke limited English.

The footage included clear images of the female suspect and the robbery, Hellwig added, noting that investigators are making progress toward identifying and locating the suspect. The robbery victim was shaken but did not require hospitalization, authorities said.

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