Shopping center Santa Claus, in full regalia, foils a would-be carjacker

December 10, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- A grateful Gloria Margolis calls it a "miracl on Chatsworth Street."

The 36-year-old single mother was rescued from a would-be carjacker yesterday by a shopping center Santa Claus who chased off her assailant by bounding toward him in full costume.

"I couldn't believe it," Ms. Margolis said. "It was like -- this is a miracle."

Ms. Margolis of suburban North ridge was getting out of her 1988 Lincoln Town Car in the parking lot at Granada Village shopping center at 11:10 a.m. when a man wearing a knit cap and sunglasses came up behind her and leaned against her.

"The guy was using foul language" and ordered her to hand over her keys or he would "cut her," said Ms. Margolis, the mother of two teen-age children.

The attacker made a grab for her purse, which was sitting on the car seat beside her, and the two struggled for the handbag, Ms. Margolis said.

Meanwhile, Daniel Hobbit, 40, a free-lance video producer who is playing St. Nick at the shopping center, heard the woman's screams, glanced out his "Santa's workshop" window and saw the confrontation.

Mr. Hobbit ran out of the workshop and bounded about 100 yards into the parking lot.

"I must have looked like quite a sight. I had my bells jingling and everything," said Ms. Hobbit, who lives with his wife, Fran, and stepdaughter in Canoga Park.

"Whether he had a weapon or something -- that didn't even enter my mind. She was just someone who needed help," Mr. Hobbit said.

Ms. Margolis said that she realized the attacker had spotted Santa Claus running toward him because "he had this look of terror on his face, and all of a sudden he dropped my purse and let go and took off. He was totally in shock to see Santa Claus," she said.

Ms. Margolis was shaken but uninjured, and lost none of her belongings, said police, who were still looking for the attacker last night.

Yesterday wasn't the first time that Mr. Hobbit helped someone while dressed as Santa Claus.

Three years ago, he saved the life of an 11-year-old boy who had passed out at a mall after choking on chewing gum.

Said Ms. Margolis: "A lot of times, crazy people, even after they take your possessions, they kill you anyway. I feel he really saved my life."

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