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Craving for gum prevents a crime

October 07, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - Ovidiu Scumpieru went to get a pack of gum Monday night and caught a thief.

The owner of Al's Pizza in Potomac Plaza and another man are being credited by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office with capturing a knife-wielding juvenile who tried to hold up Lynn's Convenience Store.

"I just walked over to get a pack of gum and saw this guy with the red mask holding the customer. For a second, I thought it was a joke," Scumpieru said Tuesday.

"I got him from behind and got him around the neck with one hand and got his arm with the knife with the other," said the 27-year-old Hagerstown man. Another customer in the store then jumped the robber and they wrestled him to the floor.

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Scumpieru said they got the knife away from the 17-year-old would-be robber and held him down for about 10 minutes until deputies arrived.

"I couldn't get the knife out of his hand without that guy's help," Scumpieru said of the other man. The sheriff's office said that man had not agreed to have his name released as of Tuesday.

No one was seriously hurt in the incident, which was called in at 8:54 p.m. The woman customer, whom Scumpieru described as "really scared," was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, where she was treated and released.

The name of the 57-year-old woman was not released by the sheriff's office.

The suspect was charged as a juvenile with attempted armed robbery and his name was also not released. He had allegedly grabbed the woman, held the knife to her throat and demanded that the two clerks in the store hand over the money in the cash register.

Scumpieru had been an employee at Al's Pizza, 102 Forever Green Drive, until buying the business several weeks ago.

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