It must have taken a lot of courage just to come to work. I know if I had been forced to the floor of my office, a gun pointed at me with the promise “I’ll shoot you,” I’m not sure I’d be able to return to work all too quickly.
As I stood in the small single-room quarters of the Delphine Gallery last Friday, talking to Vickie Spangler as she recalled the scary events of the day before, I was struck by how calm and cool she seemed.
She recalled the details of what had happened to her less than 24 hours before (see the full story, page 1), interrupted only by other shopkeepers who came to check in on her and offer words of support. Her business partner Deborah Weiner was in the shop as well, helping Spangler account for all that had been taken.
But there might not have been a real way to reach that figure. Sure, they’ll eventually get a good idea of just how much the stolen jewelry was worth, but there will be no way to account for the lost sense of security.
“I never thought this would happen to us here,” Spangler told me.
Now she’ll never feel that way again. Nor will other small shop owners who keep the same 9 to 5 hours on a crowded street that would never seem the likely scene of a daylight holdup (though Spangler is not the first shopkeeper to be robbed at gunpoint during the day in Chestnut Hill).
Spangler’s actions – just coming in to work the next day – are remarkable. She said she was shaken, but it was barely apparent in her manner Friday morning. Without hesitation, too, she talked about what she thought Chestnut Hill needed to deal with crime on Germantown Avenue and off.
On one hand, she said she’d love to know there’s more police protection. Of course, police can’t be everywhere, but there’s no way more police wouldn’t help. In this instance, the bike officers were looking for the robber within five minutes. Spangler said more police arrived within 10 minutes.
She also said that people need to look out for one another. And in some ways that seemed to happen. Spangler recounted how several people in the area stood up and did pretty brave things, people whose names we don’t know.
One man who saw the robbery end from his car on Germantown Avenue, followed the robber around the block to take down the license plate of the getaway vehicle.
Another woman on the corner who saw the man running away, quickly called police. And four young girls who were sitting on a nearby bench on Germantown Avenue rushed into the gallery to help Spangler after they saw the robber run from the shop.
It’s good to know that there are plenty of people in the neighborhood who rose to the occasion and came to Spangler’s aid.
There’s no way to prevent crime from happening. Eventually another shop in Chestnut Hill will be robbed. If and when that happens,everyone needs to be ready to stand up and help, as many people did last Thursday when this happened.
It doesn’t take force to stand up to crime. Just vigilance. We don’t need to stop enjoying the Avenue, but we can all do ourselves a great service by looking out for one another.