Thursday, June 26, 2008

Targeting Crime

This evening seemed so mundane when I left home at about 7pm to make a quick run to Target for some bird seed.

I had made my purchase and was on my way out of the store; a young woman with several things in her cart approached the doors at the same time I did, so I paused to let her out. We were parked near one another, so we walked in the same direction.

As I walked to the car, I noticed a black SUV with four late high school/early college age people hanging around it; the thing was, they were sort of talking to each other but spending a lot more time watching people. I made eye contact with one of them--a shirtless athletic-looking fellow--twice, and that struck me as odd. People talking to friends usually look at one another, not at all the people in the parking lot.

As I got in my car, they got in their SUV and began backing out. When I looked in my rear-view mirror, though, I saw that they had stopped again, and the shirtless fellow had gotten out of the car. A second later, he's running full-speed towards the woman who had exited the store before me; he pushed at her, grabbed her purse, and took off running around the side of the store.

Meanwhile, his friends were so busy watching their purse-thief pal that they didn't notice that I had immediately turned around and pulled up just behind them at an angle to get their license number. When they noticed me, the girl who was driving hit the gas to get out of there; I already had the license number, though.

I drove up to the victim. "Are you okay?

"Yes..." She was confused and a little panicked.

"Were they friends of yours?" I wanted to be sure this wasn't some friends goofing around.

"No, they stole--"

"I saw it; I'm calling 911 now." I had already dialed the numbers; I hit send, and five seconds later I'm on the phone with the operator, telling her what had happened and giving the full license number, a description of the vehicle, and a description of the occupants.

Less than five minutes later, Cobb County Police officers and detectives responded in a most impressive show of efficiency and concern. They had the description of the vehicle and the license plate out there; the vehicle was registered to a nearby address, and they had officers dispatched there and also had issued an alert for the vehicle.

The woman was visiting family; she lived in Singapore, and was confused and upset. "It happened so fast," she said. "I thought I was all alone. I didn't know what to do. You were like an angel," she kept saying. I was touched by her hyperbole, and saddened that something like this would mar her visit with her family. She used my phone to call her relatives; they soon drove up to wait with her, confused and concerned and angry. They tried to keep their composure, though, for her sake.

Less than thirty minutes later, an officer had pulled the vehicle over. Arrests were made, and it appeared that the victim was on the way to recovering most of her belongings. She was amazed. "I never thought something so bad could turn out good," she said. As the stress of what had happened began to catch up with her, she started to cry a little. "Thank you so much. This would have been awful if you hadn't been there."

There isn't much you can say to that except, "Glad I could help."

I hope her night got better.

And I hope the night got a lot worse for the four thieves who ruined this woman's evening...


Art said...

I would like to see a rewrite of this script where you pull a gun on the perpetrators and hold them until police arrive. Maybe you could say something cool like, "Going somewhere, fellas? Looks like you've got a flat!," and then you shoot out their tires. Or maybe you could just pop caps in all their foreheads before they even knew what was happening.

Just kidding. Nice to hear that kind of thing had a nice ending for once. Religious people might call your birdseed trip "providence."

cliff said...

Rewrites make all the difference...

Unfortunately, no such drama. But I was so happy that the Cobb County Police were able to resolve this problem so quickly. These guys were heroes; rather than dismiss this as "just a purse-snatching," they took the problem seriously and responded with an urgency that was amazing.

As for the popping a cap in their foreheads... nah, I've never been a Punisher kind of guy. Superman's ethos is more up my alley...

Charles R. Rutledge said...

And Kal-El would be proud of you, Cliff. Nice work. That girl was fortunate that you were there and willing to get involved.

Lanny said...

The world needs more true heroes like you, Cliff!

Well done sir!