Clerk catches bottle to head during Falcon Heights liquor store robbery

A man attempted to steal a case of expensive vodka from Merwin Liquors in Falcon Heights on Jan. 18. A clerk broke up the theft, though the thief hit the clerk in the head with a bottle as he got away.

The man who entered Merwin Liquors in Falcon Heights the evening of Jan. 18 grabbed a case of Grey Goose vodka and made for the door, an indication he didn’t plan on paying for it. 

He also indicated he had a gun, St. Anthony police said.

That didn’t stop a liquor store clerk from breaking up the robbery, though the robber didn’t take the break-up lightly — he cracked the male clerk in the head with one of the bottles of vodka as he fled.

The clerk, unharmed in the bottle attack, managed to recover three-quarters of the case of top-shelf vodka, worth $207; two bottles were found smashed in the parking lot, police said.

St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth said an officer was on routine patrol near the intersection of Snelling and Larpenteur avenues just after 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 when he saw people standing around broken glass in the parking lot near the liquor store.

The officer was told a robbery had taken place, Mangseth said. As the officer called in the report, dispatch told him someone had just called 911 about an armed shoplifter.

Mangseth said the clerk was struck in the side of the head with a vodka bottle, though it didn’t break, and the clerk showed no signs of injury and declined medical attention.

The clerk told police he’d attempted to restrain the thief and prevent him from stealing the liquor, Mangseth said, adding that’s not always the safest thing to do.

“From a public safety standpoint I would caution [people] from intervening,” Mangseth said. “I would encourage them to err on the side of safety and to be a good witness.”

He added that when in doubt, retail store employees should also defer to store policy when it comes to engaging with thieves.

The man who attempted to rob the store was described as a black man with a medium complexion, nearly 6-feet tall and aged 25-35 years old, Mangseth said. He had a slim build and a 3 to 4 inch-long goatee beard.

After the failed theft, witnesses told police the man hopped into a waiting getaway car, a tan four-door vehicle, possibly a 1980s or 1990s Oldsmobile, Mangseth said.

“Property loss is not an equitable thing compared to personal safety,” Mangseth added.


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