SADDLE BROOK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A man is being praised by police for catching two brazen thieves in the act and helping officers hunt them down, all while putting his own life in danger.
“My instinct was, let’s get these guys,” Robert Brooks told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.
Brooks goes to the same A&P supermarket in Saddle Brook, New Jersey every night. But he said what he saw Wednesday seemed a bit out of the ordinary.
“I noticed there was no bags. I realized, this guy is stealing,” Brooks recalled.
Brooks had encountered a man walking out of the store with $300 worth of groceries in his cart. Items that he allegedly never paid for, Schneider reported.
“One of the employees said to me ‘stop that guy!'” Brooks said.
So he went after the alleged thief. “I said turn the keys, turn the car off, and get out of the car. When I said that, he came forward and he hit my legs.”
But that didn’t stop Brooks. Falling forward, he landed on top of the hood and refused to let go, Schneider reported.
“I’m holding onto the hood, yelling ‘stop the car, stop the car.’ And my body is going to the left, to the right,” Brooks said.
Brooks ultimately fell off of the car, giving the alleged shoplifter and his partner an easy escape – or so they thought.
The pair attempted to make a getaway but when they took a hard turn, the car slipped on black ice and slammed into a snow bank, Schneider reported.
“The police apprehended him on top of a 5-foot snowbank,” Brooks said.
“The two suspects just gave themselves up at that point,” police chief Robert Kugler explained.
The suspects, Phillip Gannaway and Roy Ottino, were arrested and charged with shoplifting and robbery, Schneider reported.
After all the action died down, the staff at A&P and the police, praised Brooks for his heroism.
“We do commend him for his actions and for disregarding his own safety to do what’s right,” Kugler said.
“I guess it was kind of crazy on my end, but then again I’d do it again,” Brooks added.
And he has a message for anyone else planning to mess with his town. “Stay out of Saddle Brook. You never know who’s going to watch you and get you.”
Gannaway and Ottino are being held at the Bergen County Jail on $15,000 bail.
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