82-year old woman fights off bank robber

elderly woman with walking stickTobias Hase

An Austrian bank robber faced a nasty surprise when he burst int a bank in St Egyden am Steinfeld, waving a gun and claiming to be carrying a bomb. He didn't account for 82-year-old Hertha Wallecker attacking him with her handbag, and questioning his life choices.

Even the threat of being shot didn't deter her.
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Wallecker hit the robber with her handbag, and then tried to pull his balaclava off. During the tussle, she was shouting: "That's the bank's money, if you want money get a job you lazy devil." He continued trying to stuff money into a bag, at which point she succeeded in getting his mask off, and pulled at the bag - spilling the cash over the floor.

At that point he fled to his getaway car - but given the fact that his balaclava had been removed in front of the security cameras, he was arrested shortly afterwards.

Wallecker told Austrian reporters that: "I hate injustice. I come from a family with 16 children and you learn in a group like that to make sure everybody gets a fair share. I get 800 euros a month as a pension, and I had to work really hard to have the right to do that. When I hear about anybody stealing anything it just makes me really angry. I would do it again but my nephew told me it was mad and I could have been shot," she added.

Clearly she's a brave woman, but she is far from the only older person who has stepped in at a moment of crisis. Here are five of the bravest.

In May this year, 71-year-old Michael Graver confronted thieves who attacked the Bury St Edmonds jewellery shop where he was browsing. Despite the fact the crooks were wielding sledgehammers, he grabbed a bag of watches they were trying to steal, and hampered their efforts until they were forced to flee. They were later caught by police.

In July, 80-year-old Otolia Martins from New Bedford saw a gunman standing at the counter of her local grocery store, threatening a friend of hers. She decided to deflect attention from his potential victim - on the grounds that she was older and therefore had less to lose. She grabbed a bag of apples close at hand and started throwing them at the gunman, then she turned to the mangoes. After hitting her with the gun in an effort to stop the fruit onslaught, the attackers fled.

In February last year an anonymous woman in her 70s went even further when she saw a gang of six men attacking a jewellers with hammers in Northampton. She crossed the street and started whacking them with her handbag. Passers-by were encouraged by her actions to wade in, and catch one of the gang, while the others fled on scooters.

In 2010, 75-year-old Peter Greensides led a group of have-a-go heroes, who tackled a 39-year-old who had pulled a knife on a cashier in Ladbrokes. Greensides' decision to throw a chair at the attacker was key in thwarting his getaway.

Back in 2008, pensioner Ronald Kennedy foiled a robbery in his local Spar grocery store near Plymouth. He saw the 30 year old robber attack and rob the shop assistant, so as he tried to leave the shop. Kennedy hit him with his walking stick until he dropped the cash - which Kennedy promptly returned to the assistant.
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