Driver, off-duty cop help robbery victims at mall

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published January 16, 2013

SOUTHFIELD — Thanks to the assistance of a couple of community members who happened to be in the right place at the right time last week, two victims were helped to thwart robbers attacking them at Northland Shopping Center.

Two separate incidents of robbery occurred, both in broad daylight.

The first incident took place at 9:40 a.m. Jan. 8, when a 24-year-old Detroit woman said her iPhone was stolen at the bus stop outside the mall. She told police that, as she took her cellphone from her pocket to use, a man grabbed it from her hand and took off running.

She chased the man for a brief time, according to the report, but was unable to catch him. That’s when a woman who was driving by stopped and asked the victim what was happening, according to Lt. Nick Loussia of the Southfield Police Department. Eager for her phone to be recovered, the victim shared her experience with the woman, who was, coincidentally, a police officer.

“The female, who was only later identified as an off-duty Detroit police officer, called 911 and followed the suspect for a little bit, giving us his general location,” Loussia said. “Our officers responded. … With the assistance of a K-9 unit, the suspect was located.”

Loussia added that the phone was later recovered.

The next morning, at approximately 11:35 a.m. Jan. 9, Loussia said, another robbery was reported in the parking lot, this time with a woman jumping out of her own car to escape a carjacker.

The woman, a 28-year-old from Detroit, told police that she’d arrived at the mall and parked, turned off her car and opened the door to find a man standing near the back of her vehicle. Startled, the woman reportedly closed the door and locked her car.

That, however, did not deter the man, who had a gun, according to Loussia.

“He approached her door, pointed a handgun at her and ordered her to open the door. Fearing for her safety, she complied,” he explained. The woman was ordered to climb over to the passenger side, and the suspect got in the driver’s seat and backed out.

“The victim was looking for a good opportunity to jump out of the car, and as soon as he pulled out onto Greenfield, she jumped out into the road,” Loussia said.

The woman, who suffered minor injuries from the leap, was assisted by community member who stopped to help her and call police. Officers were able to locate the victim’s car, unoccupied, in a parking lot nearby in Detroit.

There have been no arrests made at this time. The suspect is described as a black man, about 28-30 years old, with a medium complexion and thin build. He reportedly had a “scraggly” beard, and was wearing a coat, a skullcap and glasses.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Southfield Police Department at (248) 796-4686.