As I was unloading a couple of sacks of goodies into my car at Wal-Mart, a young African-American male appeared out of no where and tried to grab my purse from my cart. At first it seemed incredulous that on a beautiful, bright winter's day in the middle of the afternoon, that this was going down. I made a grab for the purse, but as the thief was also pulling, all I grabbed was the cart. The purse was snagged on the cart and the assailant was dragging the purse with the cart around the back of the car next to me and between that one and another. I'm yelling and holding on to the cart, but he just kept going. Somehow the cart became wedged between the two cars. I kept thinking that he would just abandon the idea and run, when the purse came loose. He took off running down the roadway between the next rows of cars. I was blocked by the cart from getting through and had to take an alternate route. At this point I saw several other shoppers yelling and running.
By the time I got there, a young man (25-30) had my cell phone, which probably had fallen out of my purse, and was already calling the police on his blue tooth. The thief had jumped into a get-away car with two other individuals and sped off. My hero had completely taken charge, checking to see if I was hurt, and giving the police a complete description of the car with the license plate. He had found a drug scale that had fallen out of the thief's car as he had jumped in. He and two or three other shoppers all remained until the police arrived to give descriptions of the people in the car and offer what ever information they had. They all were so supportive.
I immediately called my daughter to tell her what had happened and have her cancel my debit card. She was leaving for an interview so I assured her I was alright and to go ahead.
She called me back shortly to say someone had called to say that my wallet had been turned in to a nearby inn.
By now there were 4 police officers assisting me. One of them went to the inn and was told that an elderly gentleman had been walking in the area and had brought it in to them. The wallet was returned to me with everything but my debit card and the $100 I had just taken out on it in Wal-Mart. I was so relieved to have all my cards and ID intact.
Within 30-40 minutes, the officer dealing directly with me received a call that the car and occupants had been found. The officer took me down to the car wash where they were apprehended and asked me to identify my assailant. I could identify his clothing and physical build and haircut, but I could not certify his facial features as I was focused on my purse and he was turning away during the incident. I see why eye witness testimony can be so inaccurate.
On the way back to my car, I asked the police officer how often are purse snatchers caught. He said almost never, particularly withing 30 minutes. Then he added that sometimes after much more investigation and time arrests are made.
While the theft and the loss of my purse, money, and debit card was upsetting, the generosity of the private citizens (particularly my hero) at Wal-Mart and the elderly gentleman that turned in the wallet was absolutely inspiring. The Wichita Police Officers were exemplary in how they conducted the interviews and for going the extra mile to apprehend my thief. One officer even went along the parking lot edges and beat the bushes trying to find my purse. This was definitely one of humanity's finer moments.
When I wrote the original post on "The Best and the Worst", I never dreamed the concept would strike so close to home. Weird, huh!