“If I had known,” said Yong Tai Zheng, “I would have gotten it back before they left the door.”
Zheng, partners with his brother, Young Luan Zheng, at the Panda Buffett, 6600 Stage Road, recalled the confusion surrounding the robbery at his restaurant on Thursday, August 2.
It seems that four women and one man seized the opportunity of a busy lunch when all the Panda Buffett employees were busy to go behind the cash register area and take an employee’s purse and a restaurant money bag.
“I saw the woman walking out with the purse on her shoulder; I just didn’t know it was stolen at the time.” Zheng continues. “When I realized what was happening, I rushed out to the car.”
At this point the robbers were in the process of fleeing. Zheng tried to open the car doors. He was just one step behind and one of the women pepper sprayed him. On Friday, Zhang’s eyes were still red. But that did not stop him from trying to retrieve the property. Quick thinking and nimble hands grabbed the Arizona license plate as the robbers sped off in the getaway car. It was a late victory, but victory none the less. Meanwhile, dozens of customers were already on their cell phones calling the police.
Detectives were on the scene conducting an investigation; Lieutenant Rory Mack gave a quick synopsis.
“It appears that four or five individuals took advantage of lunchtime crowds to go behind the counter,” said Mack. “We’ve got the plates and are running them now. It shouldn’t be hard to find out the owner of the car and go from there.”
Zheng was confident in the police work and stated that if any money was returned, he was donating it to the Bartlett Police Department.
“Bartlett is a safe place. My family just invested in some property near here because of that. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen in Bartlett. Maybe in Memphis but not in Bartlett.” Zheng seemed relieved that it was in the hands of the police. “Their quick response and thorough investigation makes me happy that our business is in Bartlett.”
On Friday, business was back to normal. Zheng and staff treated Friday as just another business day. There was no trace of the incident or even of the heroics performed by Zheng or the police investigation. There has been no word yet on the apprehension of the suspects, but with the amount of eye witnesses and the license plate as evidence, word of an arrest should come soon.