By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police are searching for a suspect who robbed an 87-year-old man and ran off with the payroll for a beloved South Philadelphia business. The incident happened on Sept. 2, around 8:15 a.m., on the 1700 block of South 4th Street.

“Twenty-seven years in business — it never happened before,” Nick Luke said.

Luke is talking about a strong-armed robbery where a weekend’s payroll was snatched from the hands of an 87-year-old man.

“It is disgusting how this kid just threw him around, robbed the money and took off,” Luke said.

Luke, who co-owns the popular Tony Luke’s restaurant on East Oregon Avenue, intended to pick up the payroll bag, including all the cash and credit card transactions from the busy holiday weekend, when the incident happened on Labor Day.

(credit: Philadelphia Police)

“The cash from the weekend of Saturday and Sunday totaled $17,000,” Luke said.

But he was running late so he asked Ralphie, who he practically considers family, to pick up the cash instead and bringing it to the company’s commissary on South 4th Street.

“He’s an old friend of my father’s — 60-year friendship,” Luke said.

Newly released surveillance video shows the suspect, dressed in black pants and a grey hoodie, cross the street and then lunge for the payroll bag. Both Ralphie and the robber fell to the ground just as Luke pulled up to the commissary.

“All of a sudden I hear him yell, ‘I’ve been robbed, I’ve been robbed.’ He was bleeding from his arms,” Luke said.


The suspect ran off, revealing a red Philadelphia Phillies hat.

“It was planned,” Luke said.

Luke says he believes this isn’t just a random crime.

“He went right for the bag knowing what was in there,” Luke said. “I think this is an inside job.”

While Ralphie recovers, Luke hopes police are able to track down the suspect who targeted his business and such a close elderly friend.

“[Ralphie’s] doing great. He’s healing up and had a lot of bruises on his arms and back from falling, but he’s a trooper,” Luke said. “It’s disgusting. It makes everybody angry.”

If you have any information about this suspect or incident, call police at 215-686-3183/3184.

Luke says he’s offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.