After car chase, toy store manager plays cop to suspected robbers makes citizen's arrest

August 11, 1992|By Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin | Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin,Staff Writers

A Catonsville Toys R Us manager took matters into his own hands when he spotted three people taking $521 worth of toys and children's clothing from his store -- and sacrificed his own pickup truck in the process.

A Baltimore County police spokesman said that what started out as a shoplifting incident Saturday night turned into a dangerous vehicle chase on U.S. 40 -- and a citizen's arrest.

Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, the spokesman, said the store manager, Douglas R. Schatow, 37, repeatedly tried to stop the suspects' truck with his own truck.

He was able to force the suspects to stop on the southbound ramp of the Baltimore Beltway at U.S. 40, police said.

There, the manager grabbed a female suspect, identified as Deborah Lynn Weatherley, 28, of the 1900 block of Grinnalds Ave. in South Baltimore. Police officers, who had received a call about a hit-and-run accident, arrived quickly to take custody of the woman, Sergeant Doarnberger said.

The woman, charged with assault with intent to murder and grand theft, was released Sunday on $1,000 bail, Sergeant Doarnberger said. The two male suspects escaped on foot, he said.

Mr. Schatow was driving a GMC pickup truck, and the suspects were in a rented truck. "They kept ramming him," Sergeant Doarnberger said of the two-mile vehicle chase.

Police said the suspects rammed Mr. Schatow's truck five times. The final time, Mr. Schatow's truck spun around and blocked the suspects' truck. Police could not say how much damage was done to Mr. Schatow's truck.

Sergeant Doarnberger said police frown on citizens' attempts to capture shoplifting suspects, especially in personal vehicles.

"Any time where you get into a situation when you have cars

ramming each other . . . the chance of an innocent person being hurt increases," he said. Still, it's not unusual for store employees or security officers to attempt to capture shoplifting suspects on foot, Sergeant Doarnberger said. "To have it involve a vehicle is very unusual," he said.

Mr. Schatow could not be reached yesterday. Officials at the store's headquarters in Paramus, N.J., did not respond to a question about company policy concerning shoplifting and employee responses.

A police report said a store employee spotted the suspects putting the stolen items in the truck about 5:30 p.m.

Sergeant Doarnberger said Mr. Schatow approached the suspects at a traffic light on U.S. 40 and identified himself. The suspects responded by ramming his truck and speeding off.

Police said the suspects rammed Mr. Schatow's truck five times. The final time, Mr. Schatow's truck spun around and blocked the suspects' truck. Police could not say how much damage was done to Mr. Schatow's truck.

The female suspect attempted to grab the stolen goods and run away, but Mr. Schatow "was able to grab her," the sergeant said.

No injuries were reported. There was no indication that the suspects had any weapons, the sergeant said.

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