Philadelphia resident Steve Reiff, 64, was getting into his car about to go to a routine doctor's appointment on Wednesday afternoon when he was approached by a frantic 15-year-old who said he'd been abducted and held hostage by gunmen.
"He had no shoes on, and he looked frantic, and he was crying," Reiff said. "He said, 'I was just kidnapped and I had duct tape on face and hands. The guys had guns, they went into my parents' house and robbed them.'"
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Reiff didn't know whether the story was true, but he knew he had to do something to help.
"I told him, 'Get in my car,' and I took him to 23rd and Fairmount to a Sunoco gas station mini-market there so he could call the police. And he went in there and they called them for him."
Reiff says he then rode off to his appointment, uncertain about the outcome of the young man's story but relieved that he'd at least done something to try to help.
It wasn't until Reiff returned home later that evening that he learned the truth behind the teen's ordeal.
According to police, two gunmen wearing purple latex gloves and masks kidnapped the teen while he was walking home from school on Ferndale Street in Northeast Philadelphia on Wednesday. Police say the kidnappers later drove to the teen's home in Bustleton, tied up his parents with shoestrings, and collected $30,000 in cash, jewelry and the home's surveillance video system before taking off with the teen in the car.
The high schooler somehow managed to free himself from the kidnappers, at which point he encountered Reiff and asked him for help.
"When I came back from the appointment, I turned on the TV and I see it on the news, and I thought, 'Holy cow!' Who would’ve even known if it was true?" he said.
"It was all very surprising, but I knew something was up. I knew he needed some help, and I couldn’t just leave him there. I have children of my own, so I had to get him to some place safe. Luckily I was there at the right time."
The teen was not hurt and has since been reunited with his family.
No arrests have been made.