MOST ROBBERIES follow a common model: Get the goods and get out.
But a trio of punks took their heist to the next level early Monday, when they posed as workers for three hours at a Hess gas station in Eastwick - they even gave discounts on candy, cigarettes and lottery tickets to the customers they "served," pocketing the cash from the sales.
"I've been doing this for 23 years; this is the first time I recall an incident like this," Lt. John Walker, of Southwest Detectives, said. "It seems like they understood the operation, and it's obviously bizarre in that they took the business over."
It's unclear exactly how much the three bandits took from the gas station's register, but Walker said it apparently wasn't enough - that's why they decided to stick around for a few hours and play shop.
There's no surveillance system in that Hess station, on Island Avenue near Elmwood, so the daring caper wasn't recorded, Walker said.
But, fortunately, there was a witness: An 18-year-old clerk named Brandon - the Daily News is withholding his full name to protect him - was hurt during the robbery after a bullet grazed his head while he attempted to disarm one of the thieves, who entered the store with a handgun drawn.
Brandon's dad, whose identity the Daily News is withholding at his request, recounted his son's ordeal yesterday on the steps of his home, less than a mile from where it all unfolded.
He said his son was in the middle of his overnight shift, about 1 a.m., when a man dressed in a Hess uniform approached him, saying he had to make a delivery.
Brandon let the man in, but was immediately overwhelmed by two other men, who forced their way inside. One of them pointed a gun at Brandon's head, and the young man panicked, trying to wrench the weapon from him. It went off during the scuffle, and the clerk narrowly missed taking a bullet in his skull.
The thieves kept their composure, telling Brandon to "chill out" before forcing him into the station's bathroom. They even offered him a soda while they went to work ripping off the business, his dad said.
"They're kinda bold," the concerned parent said. "To almost kill my son and then just stand there, to take over a business like that for hours? That's kind of crazy."
After a few hours, the lowlifes split, and Brandon was able to escape and run home, where his parents called police.
The teen was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment and released later Monday, his dad said.
Since the attack, he's been understandably shaken: He'd only been working at the Hess station for a few months, saving up some cash before enrolling in college - he has plans to take classes at ITT Tech, according to his dad.
Suffice it to say, he's not going back to his old job on the graveyard shift.
Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate the incident, and believe those same men robbed another Hess gas station April 30 on 61st Street near Passyunk Avenue, Walker said.
In that earlier incident, a man wearing a Hess uniform forced his way inside and ran off after taking an undisclosed amount of cash, Walker said.
Police are urging anyone with information, including the customers the robbers "served" Monday morning, to come forward. Tipsters should call 215-686-8477.
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