Stop, Thief!


Yesterday, around Noon, I went to meet my brother for lunch near his office at LaBrea and Wilshire.

I was early. We weren’t meeting until 1pm so I took a walk along the south side of Wilshire heading west, passing Detroit, Cloverdale and S. Cochran.

On the north side of Wilshire, I saw a middle-aged Asian woman in a green apron chasing a red-haired, plaid shirted male east towards Detroit. She was screaming, “Stop him! Stop him!” He kept looking back and outran her, eventually boarding a bus parked at Wilshire and LaBrea.

I ran too, crossing the street, breathlessly getting on the bus and telling the driver, “You have a man who just robbed a store on your bus. He is in back. I am calling LAPD!”

The driver waited. I called LAPD and reported a “hold-up” of a store on Wilshire and that the suspect was aboard a Metro bus. The police operator made me repeat the description of the suspect several times (“red hair, plaid shirt, middle-aged, white”).

I stood next to the bus, on the sidewalk and waited. The bus and its passengers, including the suspect, waited.

Then after about ten minutes, cops arrived.

Two police cars, including one unmarked, pulled behind the bus, shoved the rear engine cover up and crouched down, drawing their guns. Another car of cops went in front of the bus, and the police told us to all get out of the way.

I ran to the corner with others, and we watched, behind building at LaBrea, as the cops worked.

Then the driver got off and pointed at me, and a cop, his silver gun drawn, rushed at me and told me to put my hands up, to face the wall, to get down on the ground. His partner also ran at me, and I yelled, “I’m the one who called the police!” My hands up in the air, guns aimed at me, I was suddenly endangered and suspected of something. I don’t know what.

I was told to hand over my wallet and ID. And then I was allowed to put my hands down. The officer asked if my current address was the same as the one on my driver’s license.

“Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir…”

The suspect was removed from the bus, laid down on the sidewalk, handcuffed, and the other passengers got off and ran to another bus, parked down the street.

My brother came out of his office in the Samsung Tower, crossed the street, and asked me what happened.

Sweat poured down my face. We walked over to a restaurant for lunch. I ordered an iced tea, sat down at a table, wiped my face with a napkin and told him the true crime story.

Later, after lunch, I walked down Wilshire to find the lady who had been chasing the robber. I found her inside a little Korean convenience store. The cops had already visited her. Speaking not much English, she thanked me for my apprehension of the suspect, an action that might have ended my own life.

She gave me a cold iced tea.

Oh, and she said the thief had stolen three packs of cigarettes.

4 thoughts on “Stop, Thief!

  1. Not to make light of your plight, but across the street from where your brother works is a large new apartment building, completed within the past year, that has been criticized by the mid-Wilshire community as one of the ugliest in all of Los Angeles.

    Your concern for quality-of-life issues in general is translated into the gumption you showed towards the thief. Most other people would have either stared blankly at or apathetically waved off the store owner yelling for assistance. Cities and neighborhoods need more people like you.

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    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I wholeheartedly agree on the mediocrity of the new apartment, at LaBrea and Wilshire, which I watched under construction in the summer of 2013, from my office across the street. How a grand and historical street like Wilshire could bear such cheap and undistinguished architecture, in the shadow of the historic 1929 “Samsung Tower”, is mystifying. Contrasted against this residential atrocity is the modern artistry of the new apartment skyscrapers going up on Wilshire and Vermont.

      Thank you for your comment on my crime stopping actions.

      But what I did was not heroic. I was being a citizen, trying to help another citizen who had been robbed. I was in the position of tracking down and reporting the alleged perpetrator of the crime, and was lucky to have the cooperation of the bus driver who waited for the police to arrive.

      Unfortunate was the strange turn of events when I, the man who called in the crime, was suddenly supposed by one cop to be another suspect.

      In the land of guns we live in, there is no safe place for anyone, innocent or guilty. We are all at risk and only the luck of fate may assist us in surviving.

      Like

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