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To Catch a Thief

Here’s a story about the day a scumbag, lowlife, disrespecting piece of crap stole a little old lady’s handbag.  Luckily, I was on the scene.

It was 1996 and I was in Townsville, North Queensland.  I was working for Domino’s at the time and was at one of the stores there.  I was standing at the front counter when I heard a scream from out on the street.

I dashed out of the store and to the right I spotted an elderly lady on the ground on the pavement and a male running in the opposite direction to where I was.  I noticed that the lady was being assisted to by someone else so I did the only thing I thought was right.  I took off after the guy running away with the intent of catching him and making him sorry he decided to pick on an old, defensive lady.

This male who decided that little old ladies are easy targets will now be known as Mr Scumbag.

So Mr Scumbag races about 30 metres down the line of stores and then turns right down an alley which leads to the rear carpark.  I am hot on his tail and gaining ground.  He breaks into the carpark and by this stage I am about 25 metres behind him.  One of my colleagues, Rod, dashes out of the back door of the Domino’s store and joins in the pursuit.

We are gaining ground on Mr Scumbag and it is at this point that I notice he is carrying a hand bag.  So Mr Scumbag is actually a Mr Purse Snatcher but we’ll continue to call him Mr Scumbag because that is what he is.

By this stage the adrenaline is kicking in and I gain more speed when I really should be tiring.  Mr Scumbag is a teenager and fleet of foot. I am 24 and not as fit as I use to be. By all rights he should be able to outrun me, but he can’t.  Why?  Because I am on the side of good and he is on the side of evil and good always triumphs over…..oh, enough with that crap.

I’m gaining ground and Mr Scumbag throws away the handbag in a desperate, final attempt to have me stop the chase.  That ain’t gonna happen.  I’m not letting you off that easily, pal.

I catch up to Mr Scumbag and tackle him to the ground.  We go crashing to the hard bitumen of the carpark with a thud.  He breaks my fall!  I pin his arms around his back so he can’t move.  He starts yelling obscenities at me and demanding I let him go.  I say no way!

I stand him up and holding him tight by the arm, I start to walk him back.  I pick up the discarded hand bag and we retrace the same route we ran through only seconds earlier.  He is trying to pull away from my grip.  To settle him down, I tell him that all he has to do is apologise to the old lady.  Hopefully someone has called the police and they are not far away and then they can deal with him.

Mr Scumbag becomes less resistant with this news and we get back to the scene of the attack.  I hadn’t noticed it earlier but there is a push bike on the ground.  Mr Scumbag had used the bike to ride to the old lady and while still at speed, grab the bag and make a quick get-a-way.  This didn’t go to plan when the little old lady didn’t let go of her bag so easily.  He has fallen off his bike and taken off on foot.  Mr Scumbag says he wants his bike back and I tell him once he has apologised.  The police are not there and there is a small crowd of by standers assisting the little old lady.

We get back to the scene and Mr Scumbag breaks my grip and goes to grab his bike.  I grab the bike and he stumbles, regains his feet quickly and the pursuit is on again.

This time he races across the 6 lane road which luckily has stopped at the red light.  He weaves in and out of cars in the 3 lanes of traffic and I begin the chase again.  I slide over car bonnets in an effort to make some ground on him.  He races diagonally across the intersection and I am about 15 metres behind him.

The timing was perfect as it was at that point when there is a red light in all directions as one direction had come to a stop and the other direction was preparing to move on the upcoming green light.  So with no prospect of being hit by a car I was able to concentrate all of my efforts on the pursuit of Mr Scumbag.

Mr Scumbag reaches the other side of the road and enters the ground of a church.  By this stage I am losing ground and he has extended the distance between us by about 30 metres.  Obviously the sliding across car bonnets didn’t help with time but damn it would have looked good for anyone watching!

He jumps across a fence and into the next property.  I hit the fence a few seconds later and hurdle the fence as well.  He is putting distance between us and it is at this point I know I won’t catch up.

I stop the pursuit and head back to the little old lady.  She is in shock, but not hurt thank goodness.  She has her hand bag and all is well.  The police arrive at last and after getting a description from me re Mr Scumbag they take the little old lady back to the police station to make a formal statement.  They ask me to go down as soon as I can as well.

By this stage I am so pissed off at myself for letting Mr Scumbag get away.  After an hour or so I head down to the police station which is actually a small Police Beat office in the shopping centre about a kilometre down the road.

I walk in to give my statement and they ask me to take a seat.  After a few minutes I see Mr Scumbag being escorted into a holding room in handcuffs!  What the?  I didn’t catch him and now he was in police custody.  I asked the duty officer what had happened.  He informed me that Mr Scumbag had casually walked into the shopping centre a few minutes earlier, right past the Police Beat and they recognised him from the description I had given them earlier.  He was still wearing the same clothes.

What an A1 class idiot.

By this stage I found out that Mr Scumbags name was in fact, Wayne.  I’ll still call him Mr Scumbag here.  They were escorting Mr Scumbag to the main police holding cells in the city and as he walked past me he looked at me and said “I’m going to get you one day man”.  I stood up and looked him in the eye and said,

“Try your best, Wayne.  For now, you’re going to jail, son.”

I gave my statement to police and left.  But while there they told me the lady had a few hundred dollars in cash and some blank, signed cheques which she was about to pay some bills with.  Luckily Mr Scumbag didn’t get to spend it on drugs and video games.

A few weeks later I was back home in Brisbane and I received a thank you card and some scratch it tickets from the little old lady. She must have got my details from the police.  She was very thankful for my help that day.  I was glad to provide it.

Oh, I didn’t win anything on the tickets but that was ok.  I never expected them nor in fact a card nor a thank you.  I would like to think that anyone in my position would have done the exact same thing.

Scumbags of the world be warned!  There are ordinary, decent citizens out there, and we refuse to let you attack little old ladies.

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