Erin McNeal Chooses Safety in the Face of a Thief


By Grace Burns, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Senior Erin McNeal, an employee at the Sunoco Gas Station in Shrewsbury, was the victim of a non-violent theft in the convenience store on Wednesday, January 21.


What seemed to be a normal day at work for McNeal rapidly turned into a potentially dangerous one.  A girl and a man entered the store, and McNeal had no suspicions at first.  After picking up some tea and eggs, the man asked for $200 worth of cigarettes in a separate bag, which McNeal put together and placed on the counter;  however, when McNeal turned around for a moment, the man grabbed the bag of cigarettes and left the store, aggressively asserting her cooperation before he was gone.  McNeal did not put up a fight; she let him leave in order to keep herself out of harm’s way and then immediately called 911.

Store manager Danny Smith encourages his employees to protect themselves in this type of situation like McNeal did.

“Safety is our main concern,” said Smith. “We do what we have to do to get them out.”

Soon after the incident, the police arrived at the scene and interviewed McNeal.  Following the interview, McNeal wrote a statement and was informed that she may be fingerprinted in the near future.  The police finally photographed the tea and eggs that the man had put down for fingerprinting.

Friend and senior Ellen Stewart believes that another employee in the store would help improve safety but agrees with the way McNeal handled the situation.

“I probably would’ve [called 911 like she did] because I wouldn’t want to die,” said Stewart.

Not only did the thief hit Sunoco, but he also stole from other convenience stores close by such as Rutter’s.

According to Area Vibes, the crime rate in Shrewsbury is fairly low; the city is safer than 88.2% of the cities in the United States. Additionally, a person living in Shrewsbury has a 1 in 141 chance of being the victim of a crime.

Compared to Shrewsbury, Glen Rock is even more secure as it is safer than 95.2% of the cities in the United States.  A citizen of Glen Rock also has only a 1 in 157 chance of being the victim of a crime.

Clearly, the crime rates in both Shrewsbury and Glen Rock are much smaller than many other cities in the nation, including Detroit, Michigan where the chance of being the victim of a crime is 1 in 13.

McNeal would urge others to remember that they should not jeopardize their life in a situation like hers.

“Don’t try and be a hero,” said McNeal. “Just let the person go, and… [give] whatever they want to keep yourself out of danger because you’re more important than money.”