Isaac Underwood's job -- outdoor promoter of Liberty Tax Services in Toledo, Ohio -- requires him to don a Statue of Liberty outfit and hold aloft not a torch, but a sign announcing a $50 cash reward for employing Liberty's tax preparers. But on Thursday evening, Underwood, 27, behaved more like a costumed hero, chasing a pair of thieves who robbed his employer of $280.
According to the Toledo Blade, the miscreants, a man and a woman who had her taxes prepared by Liberty the previous Monday, used a curling iron under a washcloth to simulate a gun. They entered the business just minutes before closing time -- 7 p.m. -- with black cloths covering their faces. Oddly, after realizing there were still other customers, they sat down and removed the cloths, only to re-cover their faces once one of the customers left -- just
one weird detail in their poorly planned and ineptly executed holdup.
At first believing that the woman -- allegedly Sonia Watson, 41 -- was armed, Liberty employee Stephanie Knight opened a cash drawer when the robbers demanded money. But after a friend who was waiting for her in the office indicated that the "concealed weapon" was no gun at all, Knight refused to hand over the cash. At that point, the woman gave her partner in crime the order to shoot.
"He looked confused," Knight recounted to the Blade's reporters -- as well he might have been, given that he was armed with only a curling iron. "It wasn't a thought-out plan."
The man moved towards Knight, whose friend gallantly picked up a chair and struck the robber. The woman hit Knight on the wrist with the curling iron, and the Liberty employee retaliated with a Pepsi bottle (nearly full, according to police reports) aimed at the forehead. In the confusion, the woman grabbed $280 in cash, and the two malefactors escaped out the front door.
Underwood, whose first day it was at that location (though he has worked at Liberty for three years), went to find out what was afoot. "I opened the door and they said we'd been robbed," he recalled. Underwood didn't hesitate: He removed his Statue of Liberty crown and set off after the villains. "My first instinct was to run after them," he said.
He wasn't able to apprehend the suspects, who disappeared down an alley. But an arrest warrant has been issued for Sonia Watson, who remains at large.
Underwood has encountered robbers while on the job once before. Last year, wearing the same Statue of Liberty getup in a different part of Toledo, he saw a pair of thieves fleeing from a fast-food joint. Then, too, the criminals escaped. This time, however, Underwood made them work for it.
Perhaps Underwood should consider switching careers from mascot to crime-fighter. He could keep his costume, and call himself the Statue, or Taxman. When it comes to chasing robbers, the third time could be the charm.