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RED BANK: THIEF PEPPER-SPRAYS JEWELERS

leonardo-jewelers-7080006The thief fled Leonardo Jewelers Tuesday afternoon, chased by the owner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

police-red-bank-lights-2023-206x220-9578635A Red Bank jeweler was pepper-sprayed by a thief after he chased her down and caught her a block away from his store, police said Wednesday.

A store employee was also attacked with the irritant, police said.

According to Captain Mike Frazee, police received a panic alarm at 3:12 p.m. Tuesday from Leonardo Jewelers at 35 East Front Street, and just minutes later, a report of a man and woman “fighting” nearby on Union Street.

It turned out the family-owned business had just been robbed, Frazee said.

Owner Leo Zeik, who police found on Union Street near the old Marine Park tennis courts, told cops that a woman had posed as a customer and expressed interest in a particular watch.

During her interaction with a store employee, the woman, later identified as 32-year-old Shanna Santori, of Peekskill, New York, pepper-sprayed the employee in the face and fled with the watch, Frazee said.

Zeik ran after the thief and caught her a block away, at Union Street, Frazee said. A struggle ensued, the suspect pepper-sprayed Zeik in the face and resumed running, Frazee said.

Police found Santori “hiding in the reeds along the waterfront” behind the Red Bank Elks Club on West Front Street and took her into custody, Frazee said.

Zeik and the store employee, who police did not identify, were treated and released from the ER at Riverview Medical Center, just yards away, Frazee said.

Santori was charged with robbery, theft, two counts of aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession for an unlawful purpose. She was transported by police to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, whose website showed her still in custody Wednesday afternoon.

Frazee credited Zeik “for having the fortitude to chase after the suspect,” as well as the quick response by RBPD. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact Detective Paul Perez at 732-530-2700.

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