Woman attacked while thwarting robbers in Hershey; the cops and the store ‘didn’t even call to see if I was okay’


DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Police have identified at least one suspect in a retail robbery that turned violent when a shopper photographed the thieves’ license plate as they attempted to flee.

It happened on August 20 at the Old Navy Outlet store in Tanger Outlets Hershey.

A key piece of evidence – the photo of the Maryland license plate on the back of an Infiniti driven by the alleged thieves – aided the investigation, along with video evidence from inside the store and from other testimonials.

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This photo, in turn, came from Sheri Engelhardt of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who had driven with a friend to Hershey for a Rod Stewart concert that evening. Arrived a few hours before the show, they went to the mall.

“We were going to Old Navy,” Engelhardt said. “As we entered the store, two women came out and there were a few employees at the door shouting, ‘They’ve got the clothes! They’ve got the bags!’ – thousands of dollars in merchandise, Engelhardt would later learn.

Engelhardt said he approached an employee who appeared to be a manager.

“I’m like, ‘Do you want me to try and go get a plate number?'” Engelhardt recounted. “And she’s like, ‘Yeah, can you do that?'”

So she did – followed the women as discreetly as possible and took a photo, using her phone, from behind after they got into the car.

But “I guess in the rearview mirror they saw me taking the picture of that plaque,” Engelhardt said. “So the girl got out of the car and she attacked me. She ripped my chain from my neck. She ripped off my bracelet. She grabbed my phone. She was knocking. We were fighting.

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“And then they kind of pulled me,” she continued, “and they kinda dragged me into the car. And then my friend and another guy grabbed me and made me get out. My leg got stuck in a door. I lost my shoe and they pulled my arm,” which she says is still sore.

With her jewelry, the thieves got away with Engelhardt’s cell phone Case – but not the most important thing inside.

“She probably thought she had my phone, and she didn’t,” Engelhardt said. “The phone” – with the photo of the license plate – “fell out of the case”.

Engelhardt said several things surprised her, including the obvious: “I never thought that by just trying to get a license plate or doing the right thing, I would be attacked. “

But she said what happened next – or rather, what didn’t happen – hurt as much as the fortunately relatively minor physical injuries she sustained.

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After staying to hand over the photo and provide further information to investigators, “I never got a response from the police,” Engelhardt said. “And you know what? No one from Old Navy called me.

“Someone is going out of their way to do the right thing — you know, to help you. I mean, they didn’t even call to see if I was okay,” Engelhardt said. risked my life because you got robbed, and no one has the decency to see if I’m okay or how I was.”

She said she also wondered if the police continued to try to bring to justice the women who had stolen from the store and assaulted her.

Taking that last part first, Derry Township Police Chief Garth Warner said there was no cause for concern.

“The lead investigator in the case has been working virtually non-stop,” Warner said on Friday. “There were several search warrants. They are trying to get as much information as possible to develop enough probable cause to make the arrest.

This laser focus on the investigation, he said, probably explains why no one thought to call Engelhardt after he returned to Bethlehem. He said that now that he knows, he will ensure that a victims’ advocate from the ministry contacts her.

The lack of appeal so far, Warner said, does not imply a lack of appreciation for what Engelhardt has done.

“The original intent on her part was very, very good: to try to get information to give to authorities without being directly involved,” Warner said. “Unfortunately, the implication came to her.”

Spokespersons for The Gap, Inc. — which owns Old Navy — did not respond to two messages left for them Friday by abc27 News.

Warner said citizens should always do their best to help without putting themselves in harm’s way, which he acknowledged can be a difficult balancing act. And he said she was right to be grateful that something worse didn’t happen to her.

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“There could have been another party involved – if it was one of those rings – it would have been out of her sight and could have hurt her even if she was far enough away from those people.” he declared.

The rings he is referring to are robbery rings, such as the five people arrested Wednesday after a high-speed chase, who police say looted an Ulta Beauty store in Lower Paxton Township. Police did not say whether the Old Navy flight was part of an organized ring.

When abc27 News showed Engelhardt snaps of the Ulta suspects, she said they — although also from Maryland, where the license plate she photographed outside Old was from. Navy – seemed unfamiliar to him.

Someone who didn’t know better might consider Engelhardt an unlikely hero.

“For the past three years, I’ve had chemotherapy,” she said. “So it’s, you know – I’m still getting over doing this. Getting into a fight, getting beat up in a parking lot, that’s not something you’re planning on doing.

But something she would still do.

“I hope they get caught, and I hope it makes a difference,” Engelhardt said. “I hope more people will stand up and not let people get away with this.”

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