NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a face-to-face encounter between a worker and a suspect during a tense burglary on Staten Island.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Saturday, security video shows the employee had a tough decision to make.
The footage shows a stranger inside Grapevine Garden and Florist in Bull’s Head making a beeline for the cash register and grabbing bills.
It was 7:30 p.m. on Monday, just after closing. The suspect had jumped a fence and gotten into the office.
As the clip shows, at first he doesn’t see the manager right outside the front door looking in through the glass.
When the suspect realizes his way out is blocked he threatens to crash through a large front window.
“Don’t make me go through. I’ll go through,” the suspect says.
“The first thing that came into my head was that he was going to start making a mess and breaking everything,” manager Narcisco Luna told CBS2.
As Luna keeps holding the door shut, the hoodie- and mask-wearing suspect starts to negotiate.
“I’ll give it back. I’ll put it back,” the suspect says, adding after doing so, “Look! Look right here! Here!”
While the money being tossed back on to the counter looks legit from far away, Dana Montana, the owner of the Richmond Avenue shop, said it wasn’t real.
“The money that the perpetrator put back was fake money,” Montana said. “Yeah, he had fake money on him and threw it on the counter.”
On the video the suspect tells the manager, “Let me go. You let me go? I left everything.”
“He may have a weapon. He may have a knife and I don’t know that,” Luna told Carlin, in retrospect.
The video shows Luna ordering the burglar to take off the hoodie. The trapped suspect does it, but then gets agitated and starts knocking things down.
The outburst makes Luna decide to free the man to avoid more costly repairs.
He got away with $400, but left behind clothing and a phone that police are checking for DNA evidence.
Montana said she is proud of her employee.
“He is able to be so strong and so brave, blows my mind because I don’t think I could do it,” Montana said.
Razor wire was recently added to the fence around the property and motion detectors will be added, Carlin reported.
“Staten Island is becoming the Wild West of crime,” Montana said.
She said her shop has been broken into three times in as many months and she suspects the same man is responsible. He is described as 40 years old, 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, with thinning black hair.
Investigators are looking into whether he can be linked to recent heists, including at a nearby landscaping business, a deli, and a vape shop.