Alleged robber's unusual strategy to avoid arrest backfires

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
  • Police say Elgin Harrison falsely claimed to be a robbery victim Tuesday night.
  • But he's the one who plucked a man's cash from the hand of a cashier, police allege.

The old adage about the best defense being a good offense backfired for a man who was arrested after telling an ambulance crew he'd been robbed at a Manchester Township shopping center.

Elgin Anthony Harrison flagged down a White Rose Ambulance in the parking lot of the Northgate Shopping Center at the corner of North George Street and Route 30 about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. He claimed he'd just been robbed, according to charging documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police.

But when the ambulance crew said they were calling 911 to summon police, Harrison "walked away and disappeared," documents state.

Police said that's because he was actually the robber and not the victim.

Not surprised: Northern Regional Lt. David Lash said he doesn't know why Harrison would have drawn attention to himself other than to try to deflect suspicion. Or perhaps alcohol fueled Harrison's actions, he ventured.

"Nothing surprises us anymore," Lash said. "But it was nice of him to identify himself ... to make it easier for our officers."

Armed with a description of who they thought was a robbery victim, arriving officers found Harrison walking toward West 11th Avenue at the corner of North George Street, police said.

Officer Kevin Mengel stopped Harrison, who repeated his claim that he'd been robbed, documents state.

Alcohol in the mix: Harrison was drinking alcohol out of a Hardee's cup and had glassy, bloodshot eyes, according to police, who allege he was intoxicated.

He claimed he was robbed by a man he'd been speaking with while hanging out near the China Kitchen restaurant in the Northgate plaza, documents state.

But according to charging documents, the man with whom Harrison was speaking — Douglas Frock — was the real robbery victim.

Frock was unable to call 911 until after he walked back to the nearby hotel where he was staying, apparently because he didn't have a phone, Lash said.

Harrison became 'antsy': Officers were still speaking with Harrison when Frock's call came into the York County 911 Center. By that time, Harrison had "become antsy" and agitated and wanted to leave, charging documents state. Officers told him he was being detained.

According to Lash, Frock went into China Kitchen, ordered food, received the food and had handed the cashier $21 when Harrison walked in.

Harrison snatched the $21 from the cashier's hand, saying, "That's my money," the lieutenant said. He then put the money in his pocket and walked out, according to Lash.

Took back food: At that point, the China Kitchen cashier took the food back from Frock, police said.

No one from China Kitchen called police, Lash confirmed.

However, once officers went to the restaurant, the cashier confirmed Frock's version of events and identified Harrison as the man who "forcefully" took the cash from her hand, police said.

Officers subsequently found exactly $21 and a knife in Harrison's possession, documents state.

Locked up: Harrison, 28, of Orlando, Florida, remains in York County Prison on $5,000 bail, charged with robbery, theft, receiving stolen property and public drunkenness.

Like Frock, he is staying at a local hotel, according to police, who said the two men apparently don't know each other.

Lash confirmed there was a reasonable chance Harrison could have gotten away with the robbery if he hadn't flagged down the ambulance crew and drawn attention to himself.

It is unclear whether Harrison has retained an attorney.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.