Caught on Cam: Teen Taken Down for Attempted SEPTA Robbery

Bystanders step in to help detain suspect, care for victim

By Dan Stamm
|  Friday, Dec 21, 2012  |  Updated 12:22 AM EDT
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NBC10 has obtained exclusive surveillance video showing a SEPTA Police officer nabbing a robber. It happened at the 30th and Market Street station around 9 a.m. Thursday. Investigators say the robber tried to steal a cell phone from a University of Pennsylvania student. That's when authorities say plain clothes Sgt. Tim Catto sprang into action and subdued the 14 year-old suspect. During a struggle a man stepped in to help Catto. The teen was taken into custody. His accomplice ran off.

NBCPhiladelphia.com

NBC10 has obtained exclusive surveillance video showing a SEPTA Police officer nabbing a robber. It happened at the 30th and Market Street station around 9 a.m. Thursday. Investigators say the robber tried to steal a cell phone from a University of Pennsylvania student. That's when authorities say plain clothes Sgt. Tim Catto sprang into action and subdued the 14 year-old suspect. During a struggle a man stepped in to help Catto. The teen was taken into custody. His accomplice ran off.

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It’s one of those what would you do moments.

You see a plainclothes police officer struggling to handcuff a teenage robbery suspect on a SEPTA subway platform. Do you step in to help? Do you call for help? Or, do you just walk away?

On Thursday morning around 9 that was the decision commuters faced after a plainclothes SEPTA officer tried to takedown a 14-year-old who can be seen trying to rob a University of Pennsylvania student waiting for the train.

Investigators with SEPTA Police say that it all started when two teens appeared to be following the student as she looked down at her cell phone while on the platform at 34th Street on the Market-Frankford Line. When they all got off at the 30th Street stop, one of the teens allegedly tries to grab the student’s phone and that’s when the SEPTA Police Sgt. Tim Catto -- in the video you see his face blurred to protect his identity -- jumps in.

Sgt. Catto struggles to bring the teen who took the phone under control. At one point a man steps in and helps the officer as the unidentified suspect tries to get away.

"I kept saying you’re under arrest, you’re under arrest," Catto exclusively told NBC10's Rosemary Connors. "He was actively resisting, trying to flee, trying to talk me into letting him out."

As the video runs other bystanders are seen calling for help and one even helps the victim who suffered a cut during the incident.

The boy's alleged accomplice ran off.

Not many people Connors spoke to Thursday night on the subway said they would step in but some did say they would at least call 9-1-1 -- and sometimes that's all that's needed.

"I’m gonna get you some backup, I’m gonna get you some assistance is a tremendous help," Catto said. "We need more people like that."

SEPTA Police say the suspect, who is from West Philly, told investigators he was trying to get money to buy a video game. During questioning, police say the teen admitted to at least three other similar thefts since late November.

Police didn’t say if the teen would be charged as an adult or juvenile.

Catto's police work got high praise from his boss.

"He followed the suspicious people, he captured the person that committed this crime -- victimized a Penn student -- that’s great police work," SEPTA Police Chief Tom Nestel said. 

 


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