Stubborn jeweler thwarts heist


Staff Writer     

     A 59-year-old jeweler who said he refused to handcuff himself was pistol whipped at his store yesterday by a would-be robber.

     Robert Benz of Benz Jewelry on Route 9 was treated at Community Memorial Hospital for a cut on the top of his head.

     Police are looking for a white male, age 40 to 45, 5-foot 11-inches, 160 to 180 pounds, with dark hair and a mustache, wearing a red shirt and khaki pants. The suspect was accompanied by a man who drove a green getaway car with New York license plates.

     Nothing was reported stolen.

     The incident occurred at 4:48 p.m., as Benz was preparing to close his store for the day.

     The jeweler gave the following account of the incident:

     A man who looked “not much removed from a street bum” entered the store, which was empty of customers, and said he was interested in buying a grandfather clock for his mother.

     Benz walked toward the grandfather clock. When he turned back, he noticed that the man had drawn a 9-millimeter Magnum automatic pistol.

     The gunman also had a pair of handcuffs, and told Benz to put them on.

     “I said, ‘No way. I’m not putting the handcuffs on.’”

     “I wasn’t fully aware of what could have happened.”

     “He got so rattled that I would not do what he told me to do.  Then a customer entered the store. She ran out when she saw what was happening.”

     The gunman struck Benz on the head and fled, knocking a clock off the store’s counter. During the scuffle, a cartridge fell from the man’s gun.

     The man then entered his car, and he and his companion drove off in an undetermined direction.

     Benz, bleeding profusely from the blow, notified police.

     “I think he was more scared than I was. They were far from professionals,” the jeweler said.

     Benz, who operated a store in Philadelphia for 32 years, said this was his first holdup. The only prior incident that involved the five-year-old Forked River business was a burglary four years ago.

     Patrolman Patsy Sposato is investigating for Lacey police.

Ocean County Observer, Toms River, NJ, 08/10/83