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Criminally Stupid? S.I. Family Outsmarts Robbery Suspects Who Used Cab Service As Getaway Car

Alleged Thieves Nabbed After Taking Victim's Advice To Call 'Speed Car Service'
From Left to Right -- Irene Nathan, Elena Nathan & Herb Nathan. (credit: CBS 2)

From Left to Right — Irene Nathan, Elena Nathan & Herb Nathan. (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Despite being beaten and bruised by a pair of armed robbers, a Staten Island family refused to go down quietly.

The elderly couple and their daughter outsmarted them and became crime-fighting heroes by pretending to offer help.

It began with a violent push in by a young man with a gun and his female accomplice, who invaded the Oakwood home of 86-year-old Herb Nathan, his wife, Elena, and their daughter, Irene.

“It was horror. The guy was a strong guy,” Herb Nathan told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin. “He grabbed me around the neck and threw me to the floor.”

Irene Nathan was at the front door when the incident happened around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“I turned the lock and they just stormed in and wrestled us to the ground,” she said.

The brazen robbers then went on a mission for the jewelry, even stopping to ask if a piece of costume jewelry was real.

“They came in there and they ransacked the house and stole jewelry and pulled a gun to our heads and did everything,” Herb Nathan told 1010 WINS’ Aaron Gerberg.

The robbers got away with the real stuff after pushing the Nathans and their daughter into basement closets.

Right before the three victims were thrust into darkness, something happened that gave cops a break in the case.

The suspects called for a getaway car after a suggestion from one of the victims. Irene Nathan said she offered the female suspect the number of Speed Car Service and, amazingly, she took the bait.

“She dialed and it took a while for the car to come,” Irene Nathan said. “I knew we were going to get them. I just knew.”

“I couldn’t believe it. I said ‘My God, they don’t look like amateurs.’ But [they weren’t] too intelligent. Obviously they actually used the number that she provided them,” Elena Nathan told CBS 2.

After the Nathans kicked their way out of the closet, they immediately called police, telling them exactly how to catch up with the car.

“We told [police] about the car service. They called the dispatcher. The dispatcher told them where the car service was. They went after him and the girl jumped out because she was suspicious and she ran away, but they caught up with the guy,” Herb Nathan told 1010 WINS.

At the 122 Precinct, the three victims came in for suspect lineups. Police said they immediately made two positive IDs.

Ronald Baker, also known as Rodney Harvest, of Port Richmond, was picked up just as the Speed Car Service driver was dropping him off. The 19-year-old was charged with robbery and attempted criminal possession of a weapon, among other charges.

Pebbles Pless, 21, was also arrested and charged with robbery.

Police said they may be able to link the 19-year-old suspect and his accomplice to other recent crimes on Staten Island.

Investigators had nothing but praise for the family.

“They caught them. That’s the main thing,” Herb Nathan said.

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