Robber runs after Betty reads him the riot act

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on September 4, 1981

Mrs. Betty Epstein... a bit jittery.

Mrs. Betty Epstein… a bit jittery.Credit:Staff photographer

Minutes after chasing off an armed robber, Mrs Betty Epstein, a part-time Edgecliff shopkeeper, calmly offered a word of advice to other small business holders.

“Play it by ear, go by the reaction of the intruder but don’t be silly and overdo it. The money is not that important,” she said.

“If it happened again tomorrow I might react differently. It was just one of those things.”

Mrs Epstein first saw the robber when he came into the shop, Westley’s Dry Cleaning, at 1.50 pm and asked about the cost of dry cleaning. He came back about 20 minutes later, just as Mrs Epstein had finished checking the till. He pointed a gun at her and demanded the money.

On the spur of the moment Mrs Epstein told him: “You’ve got to be joking.”

She stamped her foot and clapped her hand, telling him to get out. “You’ll get into trouble at your age,” she said.

He was surprised and shaken by her coolness and authority and immediately left the shop and ran down New South Head Road without saying a word.

Mrs Epstein said the experience left her feeling a bit jittery.


“I’m not a hero or brave, it was just my reaction in the situation. If it happened again tomorrow I might react differently, it’s just one of those things,” she said.

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