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Victim Helps Catch Alleged Robber After Seeing Him at Bank

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 revolver 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 saw the same man, puffing on a cigarette near the automated teller machine.

“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 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 revolver at her and demanded that she hand over the cash in the register, she said.

“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 said, 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 saw Hines on Friday afternoon in the Bank of America parking lot.

“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 security guard and reported that the man by the ATM resembled the robber who held up her workplace. She said she glanced over at Hines and saw him looking at her.

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

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 contacted Newport Beach police.

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

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