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Good Samaritan foils purse snatching

December 23, 2011 3:14:05 PM PST
A purse snatcher who knocked a woman to the ground in a Paramus mall's parking garage was arrested after another shopper slashed his tire, slowing down his getaway.

The incident unfolded at the Garden State Plaza Mall's parking garage just after 8:00 p.m.

A 56-year-old woman from Englewood was leaving the mall on the third level of the south parking deck. As she got to her vehicle a man approached her and demanded money. When she said she did not have any money, the suspect attempted to grab her purse. She resisted until he grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground.

She started screaming, and a good Samaritan named Pedro Solla, 48, from New York City heard the victim's screams and pursued the suspect in his vehicle as he tried to run away.

As Solla turned the corner, the suspect jumped into a green Ford Explorer along with a female passenger. Solla got out of his vehicle and attempted to stop the suspect from driving away.

When he recognized that he was unable to do this, Solla punctured the rear tire of the vehicle with a knife.

Still, the suspect hit the gas and sped away, striking three vehicles on his way out of the parking deck. The explorer exited the Garden State Plaza onto Route 17 South. As they drove along Rt 17, the female passenger threw the pocketbook out the window.

Rochelle Park Police located the vehicle about a half-mile away after the suspect pulled over to fix the flat. Police detained both of them until the victim could be brought to Rochelle Park, where she positively identified them. Both were arrested.

Shane Mahi , 25, from Franklin Lakes, was charged with robbery. Bail was set at $50,000. He was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center after complaining of chest pains.

The passenger, Therese Tabano , 21, from Clifton, was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and was released on her own recognizance.

Solla is a city sanitation worker and it's not his first heroic act. In November 2004, he and his colleague noticed a house on fire. They ran into the house and saved the residents.

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