updated 7/8/2008 1:40:08 PM ET 2008-07-08T17:40:08

A Japanese woman brewed up an unusual escape plan to free herself and her 6-month-old daughter from a suspected armed robber: a cup of tea and a chat.

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A man who appeared to be a laborer in his 60s allegedly pulled a knife and demanded money from a 30-year-old housewife as she was walking in a hallway at a downtown Tokyo apartment building Monday morning, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said Tuesday on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

The woman told her assailant that she had no money but he followed her and forced his way into her apartment, police said.

But rather than screaming, the woman served the man a cup of tea in hopes of calming him down.

Police said her move seemed to work.

The man put his knife away and began telling the woman about his financial hardship and asked her to lend him 10,000 yen ($94), police said.

Police said the woman put a 10,000 yen bill and a wallet containing about 30,000 yen ($280) on the table. When the man was looking the other way, she grabbed her daughter and ran out the door to call police from a nearby public phone.

When she returned with the police to her apartment, the man and the money were gone, police said.

Police said the woman told investigators that she couldn't believe how she could act so calmly and bravely.

But police aren't recommending the tea defense for everyone.

"I think she was very lucky," the official said. "The suspect might have eased up because of the baby's presence. I don't think serving tea always works with robbers."

Police are still looking for the man.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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