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North Phila. Man Charged With Attempted Robbery of Rock Salt at Gunpoint

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just how desperate was the rock salt shortage last week?  (See related story.)

Well, Philadelphia police today arrested a man they say tried to boost a bag at gunpoint.

Lt. John Stanford says the attempted robbery took place last Wednesday afternoon as the 52-year-old victim was salting his sidewalk in the 2300 block of Diamond Street, in Strawberry Mansion.

“First thing, (the robber) asks, how much did he want for it?  And then they point the gun to him and start screaming, ‘Just put it in the truck!  Put it in the truck!’  He’s walking over in the snow, trying to put it in the truck, and they just pull away, laughing.”

Stanford says the gun turned out to be a pellet gun, and the fact that they left without the salt indicates it was more of a prank than an attempted armed robbery.  But, he says, it was dangerous nevertheless.

“I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would think something like this is a joke,” Stanford said today. “They could cause someone to have a heart attack. They could cause someone to be harmed in so many different ways.  Again, this is just something that is senseless and stupid, for lack of a better word.”

And to underscore just how stupid it was, the suspect or his companion posted pictures of the incident on Instagram.

“These two individuals were going around doing this and recording it and videotaping it as they were doing it, and placing it on social media outlets,” Stanford says.  He says that someone who saw a posting alerted police.

Stanford says the combination of an engaged citizenry and social media are a formidable crime-fighting combination.

“I think people are just getting tired of it. And they are submitting tips to us, calling us, e-mailing us, tweeting certain information to us.”

The suspect, 21-year-old Daron Stinson, also from Strawberry Mansion, turned himself into police.  He’s charged with aggravated assault and robbery.

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