A former Long John Silver's employee was arrested Nov. 20 minutes after she allegedly attempted to rob the business, according to Española Police.
Sonya Abeyta, 29, asked a cashier three times to give her all the money in the register, while holding something pointy inside her jacket, but left empty-handed when the employee called the manager to come to the front, according to two employees who witnessed the incident.
Abeyta honked the horn on her blue Saturn as she pulled into the Long John Silver's parking lot around 5:30 p.m., and when Assistant Manager Kathy Blanco opened the back door to see what was going on, she said she saw Abeyta, a man, and Abeyta's two small sons in the car. Although Abeyta worked at Long John Silver's approximately six years ago, Blanco said — two years before Blanco became an employee — she had met her a few times before.
Cashier Ambrosia Romero first became suspicious when Abeyta appeared to tilt the cash register toward her. Blanco said Abeyta had her jacket hood up when she was inside, which also seemed strange.
Romero said although her suspicions were aroused, she turned her register back the way it had been and treated Abeyta as she would any customer, by asking if she was making a take out or eat-in order.
Romero said Abeyta laughed and said something quietly which Romero couldn't quite hear. At the same time, Abeyta, who had had one hand under her jacket and one out, put her other hand under her jacket.
Romero asked Abeyta the same question again, and Abeyta looked at the menu board posted on the wall for about a minute and again said something inaudible. Finally Abeyta said loud enough for Romero to hear, "Give me all your money."
"I don't have no money," Romero said in response and in her panic she forgot to press the panic button under the counter.
Romero refused to give Abeyta any money, and called Blanco out of the back of the restaurant. When Blanco approached the front counter, Abeyta left, the witnesses said.
Española Police officer Bryan Martinez was dispatched to the scene and apprehended Abeyta in Chimayó, according to Española Public Safety Chief Larry Ham.
Ham said Martinez arrested Abeyta in front of the old Lighthouse Church on State Road 76 and charged her with attempted robbery and child abuse, because her two young children were in the car during the incident.
According to an online courts records database, Abeyta has no prior criminal convictions.
Blanco said in response to the recent robberies in Espanola, the restaurant has adopted tighter security measures. She said Abeyta was rehired last year, but never showed up to work.
"(Abeyta) was completely different — she was a very pretty girl," Blanco said. "She's real thin. You could tell it wasn't the same girl that we met."