Washington Township, N.J. police are on the lookout for a group of five suspects who allegedly abducted and then assaulted a waitress at a local restaurant after she chased them to their vehicle for refusing to pay for their meal.
The dine-and-dash incident took place at Nifty Fifty’s, a family-style restaurant in the city of Turnersville, according to local reports.
Surveillance video shows the 20-year-old waitress exiting the restaurant and as the group attempts to leave in a white Dodge Durango SUV, she is grabbed by one person and dragged inside the vehicle.
“They pulled her into the vehicle and assaulted her inside the vehicle,” Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik told WPVI.
He noted further that the group left without paying a $70 bill.
According the surveillance video, which was obtained by the local news outlet, one person in the group is seen running away from the Durango right before the waitress is grabbed and hauled inside as the vehicle then drives away.
“The vehicle headed north on Route 42, made a U-turn and was heading south towards Monroe Township, and pushed her out of the vehicle,” Gurcsik told the outlet.
He added that a short time later the waitress was pushed out of the vehicle and was able to run back to the restaurant and call police. She was eventually transported to an area hospital where she was treated and released for bruises and a potential concussion.
The police chief went on to explain why the waitress reacted the way she did.
“They’re having trouble finding wait staff due to the pandemic and she came out to confront them,” he said.
“She’s obviously traumatized by the event,” Gurcsik told CBS3. “This is a brazen abduction, robbery, aggravated assault, possible kidnapping.”
“We’re asking for the public’s assistance in trying to help identify the owner of the vehicle and to go on our Facebook page and help identify the suspects in the photos. So there’s five individuals, three males and two females,” he told the outlet.
Another employee, John Hill, was shocked and outraged by what happened.
“Say it ain’t so. As an employee, that makes me feel bad. And mad,” he told ABC6.
Customers who had heard of the confrontation and aftermath were also upset.
“This is such a family restaurant; oh, this is crazy,” Stacie Garris-Oliver of nearby Lindenwold told the outlet.
“It’s sad but hopefully they find who did it and it’ll get a little better,” Allison Dowd, another customer, told CBS3.
As of this writing, the suspects remain at large, reports said. They were last seen in a newer white Durango near Monroe Township.
Gurcsik warned that people should not chase down or confront non-paying customers, but rather just take down the license plate of their vehicle and call police.
“Do not chase after accused suspects and confront them yourselves,” he told the outlet. “Try and get a license plate obviously, try and be able to identify the accused and call 911. We don’t recommend chasing customers in the parking lots.
Nifty Fifty’s co-owner Joe Donnelly told CBS3 that the incident is extremely “isolated.”
“Our customers are great. This is just a really isolated incident,” he said.
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