Woman safe, suspect in custody after New Jersey knifepoint kidnapping robbery

Woman threatened with knife as suspect tried to force her into home

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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A man is under arrest and facing charges after police in New Jersey say he kidnapped a woman at knifepoint and then robbed her. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

HACKENSACK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A man is under arrest and facing charges after police in New Jersey say he kidnapped a woman at knifepoint and then robbed her, and two good Samaritans jumped into action to help make sure the suspect was caught.

It happened in Hackensack around 3 p.m. Monday, when police say the 52-year-old victim was walking at the corner of Passaic and First streets when a man approached and held a kitchen knife to her.

They say he put his other hand on her body and forcibly made her walk about two blocks in an effort to get her into a home.

Willy Ortiz, Jr., who happened to be nearby, noticed what was happening.

"I saw a kitchen knife on her neck, right on her neck," he said. "He was just walking and guiding her, and you could see she was frightened."

He approached, and that's when the suspect fled with the victim's phone and handbag.

"I ran up to them, and I was like, 'Hey, are you OK? Is everything alright?'" he said. "And she goes, 'No, help me, help me.' And then he pushed her away, and then I pulled out my box cutter."

The man fled, and Ortiz gave chase while his father called 911.

"I'm afraid he's going to get stabbed, but he protected the lady and then he chased the guy," Ortiz, Sr., said.

That's when another neighbor acted fast to go after the suspect until police arrived.

"My neighbor said, 'Hey, that guy just robbed this lady,' and he took off running," the neighbor said. "I jumped in my jeep and looked for him. Went around the block and found him running behind a restaurant. He was standing there. I don't know if he was scared or what, but I told him not to move and just stay there, and he did."

Sgt. John Dalton and Sgt. Sean Briggs then located the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Esben Sarabe, and took him into custody.

"We can't stress how much the two Samaritans who saw and called 911, how much they definitely helped in getting this predator off the street," Briggs said.

Neighbors said the woman was shaken up, but they are glad they were home to help.

"My mom and my grandma, they go on walks all the time," Ortiz said. "That could easily have been my grandma or my mom, and I'm like, if I let him go, that could happen to somebody around the corner."

Sarabe is charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, weapons possession charges, and terroristic threats.

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