Sanitation workers help catch armed robber

February 1, 2008 3:45:37 PM PST
Two New York City sanitation workers are being praised as heroes after they helped police officers catch an armed robber. Authorities say Frank Russo and Patrick Crocitto were working along Clove Road in Sunnyside just after noon when they saw a man run out of a liquor store after another man, yelling that he had been robbed.

Russo and Crocitto followed the two men in their garbage truck to Seneca Avenue, where they used the truck to block the suspect's path.

Russo and Crocitto, who was wielding a shovel, then chased the suspect on foot. Police say the alleged robber, identified as 24-year-old Richard DiToro, fell at one point during the pursuit and threw the bag of money he had stolen.

It was reportedly was recovered by the store owner, Chung Lee.

Police say Russo, a nine-year veteran of the department, then caught up to DiToro and pinned him against a car. DiToro is then accused of pulling a a gun out of his pocket and pointing it as Russo.

"He told me three times he was going to shoot me," Russo told the Staten Island Advance. "I said, 'Drop it, drop it, drop it,' He said, 'Let me go, then I'll drop it."

Russo then let DiToro go, police said. DiToro apparently dropped the gun and was caught by police shortly after.

DiToro is charged with first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a controlled substance.