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Victim Spies Alleged Thief 2 Weeks Later : Investigations: Police arrest Costa Mesa man on suspicion of robbery after beautician who was held up happens to see him.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For two weeks, the beautician said, she couldn’t shake the image of the man with brittle gray hair and nervous mannerisms who shoved a handgun in her face and walked off with $300 from the salon where she worked.

She said she was stunned Friday when she pulled into the parking lot of a Costa Mesa bank and spotted the same man, puffing on a cigarette near the ATM.

“The parking lot was so full of cars and the only spot open in the whole parking lot was the one where I had a direct view of him,” said the 23-year-old woman, who spoke on the condition that her name be withheld. “I just turned off my car and I thought, ‘That looks like the guy. This couldn’t be. This is too weird.’ ”

The beautician called police and a short time later officers arrested John Hines III, 42, of Costa Mesa on suspicion of robbery.

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The woman said she has been shaken since the night of Dec. 30, when she went on a day off to the salon where she works to pick up a paycheck. Two co-workers were in a back room and she was the only person near the cash register.

That’s when a man walked in, pointed a small chrome handgun at her and demanded that she hand over the cash in the register.

“He said, ‘I don’t want you to move or talk. I don’t want you to do anything for five minutes. I don’t want to come back, but I’ll come back if I have to,’ ” she recounted, her voice trembling at the memory.

“And I said, ‘No, that’s OK. Have a good night.’ I can’t believe I told him to have a good night.”

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The woman said she never expected to see the man again--outside of a police lineup.

She said her initial reaction was disbelief when she spotted Hines Friday afternoon in the Bank of America parking lot around 4:45 p.m. Then she became afraid, worrying that he might want to harm her.

“I told myself, ‘That’s not possible, you’re just stressing,’ ” she said. “I got out of my car and he turned and I saw his face and his hand. I recognized his hand because I focused on it when he pulled out the gun.”

Convinced that he was her assailant, she said, she approached a bank security guard and reported that the man by the ATM machine resembled the robber who stuck up her workplace. She said she glanced over at Hines and saw him looking at her.

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“He shook is head, like, ‘No,’ ” and then turned his back to her and kept it that way, she said. Her fear intensified. “I left there fast.”

The beautician said she then remembered a promise she made to Newport Beach Police Officer Danny Reynolds that, if she ever saw anyone who looked like the man who robbed her, she would contact the police. She went to her mother’s workplace nearby and called the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Officers arrived shortly before 5 p.m. and detained Hines, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Mike McDonough. The officers then contacted Newport Beach police.

McDonough said the suspect’s movements appeared distinctive.

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“His actions were similar to those she saw prior to his robbing of her,” McDonough said. “He was outside walking back and forth and looking from side to side.”

Hines was arrested and was being held Saturday in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Newport Beach jail.


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