Shoppers grab and restrain man who robbed grocery in NW Indiana

Thomas Powell | Porter County sheriff's office

Cleanup in Aisle 5 had a whole new meaning at a northwest Indiana grocery when a group of shoppers caught and held a robbery suspect until police arrived to arrest him.

And now, police are looking for witnesses who saw or took part in the incident.

Police were called about 7:20 p.m. Friday about a robbery in progress at the Aldi Foods at 2906 Laporte Ave. in Valparaiso, according to Valparaiso police.

While en route, officers were told that customers in the store had “caught and were restraining a male subject,” police said.

They arrived to find “five or six individuals holding a male subject on the floor. Officers immediately handcuffed the subject,” police said.

Witnesses said the masked man approached a cashier and demanded money, according to police. He inferred he had a weapon in his pocket but did not show one.

The cashier gave him an unknown amount of cash, but as he turned to run out, he was “immediately physically restrained by one customer. Additional customers assisted and held the subject on the floor,” police said.

Thomas Powell, 36, of Hebron, Indiana, was arrested and charged with robbery, police said. All the money was recovered.

Those restraining him included a cardiologist and the owner of a local restaurant, witnesses said on Facebook.

If they were, police want to speak with them.

“If you assisted with the apprehension of the subject in the store on Friday evening, police would like to thank you and speak with you,” a statement on Valparaiso Police Department Facebook page said.

“Individuals involved were witnesses to the robbery and police would like an explanation of the incident from as many witnesses as possible,” police said.

They especially want to talk to anyone who is in the photo the department has released. Witnesses should call Det. Tom Horn at (219) 462-2135.