A store manager talking to a TV reporter about a rash of thefts at his market nabbed a shoplifter – while TV cameras were rolling!
“I wasn’t scared. I was mad!” Lenin Ubiera-Cruz told The ENQUIRER.
“I was fed up with people thinking they could steal from us and get away with it.”
The incident unfolded on June 21 as Lenin stood outside his family’s store, the Family Foods Supermarket, in Orlando, Fla., while telling a local TV reporter about four recent thefts there.
“People are always coming in and stealing from us. It’s a huge problem,” said Lenin, 28, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 2007.
During the TV interview, sharp-eyed Lernin spotted a guy inside the store who’d stolen some items two days earlier.
He recognized 48-year-old Lawrence Ratcliff from the market’s surveillance cameras, which had shown him shoplifting $37 worth of groceries, including a carton of eggs that he stuffed down the front of his pants.
Lenin broke off the interview to dash inside the store and grab Ratcliff. Then he marched the shoplifter outside and told him: “You are going to the floor.” As the TV camera rolled, Lenin – who’s 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds – wrapped his arms around the 6-foot-1 thief, lifted him off his feet and slammed him to the pavement.
Lenin sat down behind the shocked Ratcliff, put one arm around his neck and held him in a choke hold. Then Lenin calmly looked up at the TV camera and smiled.
He later explained that he’d learned the take-down technique as a teen.
“I used to practice it with my brother when I was 14 and 15, but I’d never done it for real before,” Lenin said.
After 911 was called, Lenin patiently sat on the ground with his arm locked around Ratcliff, who kept insisting: “I didn’t steal (anything).”
But Lenin got tired of waiting for police to arrive, so he stood Ratcliff up while another store employee tried to handcuff him.
Ratcliff kept pulling his arms away, so Lenin kicked his feet out from under him, causing the shoplifter to land heavily on his rear. At that point, they were able to cuff him. “You can’t do that! It’s illegal,” Ratcliff insisted.
Finally, an Orlando police officer arrived. After viewing the store’s surveillance tape, he arrested Ratcliff and hauled him off to jail.
Ratcliff pleaded no contest to shoplifting and was sentenced to five days in jail, fined $273 and ordered to stay away from the store.
Meanwhile, Lenin is being hailed as a hero.
He said: “People told me: Good for you, it’s about time somebody stood up to these thieves. They go around thinking they can get something for nothing. It’s about time honest people fought back.”