West Seattle Crime Watch: Runner chases, catches would-be thief

(Photo courtesy Cami)
An Admiral woman chased and caught a suspected bike thief this afternoon. We might not have known except for Mark L.‘s comment following the unrelated Crime Watch roundup we published earlier today:

Just heard that my neighbor chased a guy down the street who stole her husband’s bicycle. He doesn’t ride it much anyway, but regardless, they caught him! Guy was in his mid-50’s and he’s on his way to jail. He should’ve known better than to steal from a marathon runner!

We commented in turn that we’d love to find out more; another commenter put us in touch with the suspect-chaser, Sarah, who agreed to tell her story:

I run for sanity, for exercise also, but mostly sanity. Today’s run, however, was not really motivated by either of those.

Amidst loads of laundry and resume editing, what appeared to be a man walking in from the side alley caught my eye. Yep, there he goes, straight into the detached garage – that I left open. My kids will love that part.

White T-shirt in hand, I B-lined for the garage as a man in his late 40’s/early 50’s emerged with a bike in hand. Unsure of the extent of my rights to defend my property, I decided not to tackle the man. Although, I have to admit, as a psychotherapist and borderline pacifist, I tend to entertain all options prior to violence.

Our misguided friend proceeded to run with the bike down the alley until he likely realized the screaming woman following him was not going back into her house to call the police. The bike was ditched and the pursuit was on.

Multiple neighbors kindly responded to my pleas for a 911 call and I continued to follow the man through the Admiral neighborhood – of course, wondering what he must be feeling and what could possibly be going on in his life to make theft a viable choice. He asked me to stop following him. I explained that he should not have been in my garage. He told me his friend was now busy emptying out my house. I explained his friend had great company to welcome him: the SPD. He was welcome to run as long and far as he wanted, I had planned on 6 miles today but could probably do 12 if need be.

Fortunately, Officer Mulloy followed the multiple leads from helpful neighbors and intercepted us on Admiral just above Schmitz Park where the man was taken into custody. Bike is safe, I am safe, the laundry is done. I can’t say, though, what this will mean for the man who felt theft was his best option today. I do hope justice is restorative.

P.S. In a bit of synchronicity, passer-by Cami had noticed this incident unfolding and took the cameraphone photo above, sharing it with us with no knowledge this story was in the works! Meantime, we hope to be able to find out the suspect’s status tomorrow.

85 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Runner chases, catches would-be thief"

  • NW June 6, 2013 (8:40 pm)

    Bravo great job way to got on that number!

  • thee June 6, 2013 (8:43 pm)

    rock on, sarah!

  • nativetoseattle June 6, 2013 (8:46 pm)

    Way to go, Sarah!

  • kumalavula June 6, 2013 (8:52 pm)

    good for you, sarah!
    i know sometimes it’s tough to get motivated to get out on a run but sounds like you it in you to go the distance this afternoon!
    glad it turned out as it did!

  • West Seattle Hipster June 6, 2013 (8:55 pm)

    Great story, way to defend your property.

    Great neighbors also.

  • Alki Resident June 6, 2013 (8:57 pm)

    The guy in his mid fifties, any discription of him? Did his intitials begin with R& B by chance?

  • westseattledood June 6, 2013 (9:07 pm)

    Ha! This made me LOL with disbelief and admiration both!

    You are my kind of “borderline pacifist!”
    Hats off to all your neighbors for calling 911.

  • K June 6, 2013 (9:09 pm)

    So effing awesome! You go girl! … don’t let them take your stuff. Nicely done. No one hurt. :)

  • scout15 June 6, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    Not a very smart move.

  • KenK June 6, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    Just one comment: Sarah should be a writer, if not already. Superbly written!

  • Seahorse June 6, 2013 (9:17 pm)

    Which bit of Admiral? Was he trying to scare you by saying that his friend was in your home? You are so brave. Big hug.

  • Ollie June 6, 2013 (9:20 pm)

    Sarah….you rock!

  • WsBoB June 6, 2013 (9:23 pm)

    I love this story! I love Sarah! West Seattleites Unite! I never use exclamation marks!

  • Alki Mkay June 6, 2013 (10:10 pm)

    The SPD aren’t going to chase down the criminals. It’s up to us now.

  • McGruff June 6, 2013 (10:15 pm)

    Sarah rocks! While I commend her generosity of spirit towards the lowlife who was trying to steal her gear, I suspect he’s less a victim of circumstances than simply another example of human crud that just finds it easier to prey on others than try to be a productive and responsible member of Society.

    Whether it’s toward this bum, or the squatters at ‘Nickelsville’, excessive permissiveness benefits no one, but is condescending and counterproductive.

  • Kevin June 6, 2013 (10:27 pm)

    Kudos to you Sarah! What a great story, despite the hassle of having to chase the would be thief. Your story definitely put a smile on my face.

  • chuck and sally's van man June 6, 2013 (11:10 pm)

    I love it when goodness prevails over cowardice and mean spirit. Congrats on running down the bad guy. This story pleases me to no end.

  • Chrisd June 6, 2013 (11:34 pm)

    Right on, ain’t nobody gonna mess with Sarah.

  • Wild One June 7, 2013 (3:22 am)

    Way to go!! And I love the way you wrote the story too.

  • J. June 7, 2013 (5:55 am)

    Love this!

  • skimse June 7, 2013 (6:02 am)

    Glad, the thief was caught and you were not hurt. Just a little extra adrenalin on that run. Hopefully some other property will be recovered as I know this theft was one of many whether it was related or not.

  • Casey June 7, 2013 (6:26 am)

    Hysterical! I pictured it all happening. Nice work Sarah!

  • Amrakx June 7, 2013 (6:28 am)

    Inspiring story, well written and shared, thank you for stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run! It’s neighbors like yourself that make West Seattle such a great place to live! Incidentally I happened to be driving home to Alki when I saw two SPD cars converged in that area on Admiral. I wondered what the unusual circumstances were for such irregular parking. Nice to know Wonder Woman lives just up the street!

  • Brenda June 7, 2013 (6:33 am)

    This is truly awesome ! You’re a marathon runner???? What are the chances? Thank you for sharing your story!!

  • CanDo June 7, 2013 (6:42 am)

    I’m impressed. Great job putting a stop to crime.

  • Mary June 7, 2013 (7:03 am)

    Sarah, you should add storytelling/writing to your resume–great story! And I’m glad it all worked out okay.

  • Alan June 7, 2013 (7:23 am)

    Both the writing and justice being served put a smile on my face.

    One caution. Sarah was smart to pursue but not try to apprehend herself. When I did the same once, the officers lectured me on the fact that 1. The person I was pursuing was under 18 and could have made claims of me that I wouldn’t care for. 2. Thieves frequently carry screwdrivers to gain entry. Apparently a citizen being stabbed by a screwdriver causes them a bunch of extra paperwork.

  • miws June 7, 2013 (7:36 am)

    Great job, Sarah, and well written account of this incident!



  • markinthedark June 7, 2013 (7:42 am)

    Okay, so this guy steals a bike, but apparently doesn’t know how to ride one? Classic!

  • Mark L June 7, 2013 (8:01 am)

    On a related note, I heard West Seattle Runner will be offering a limited run of t-shirts, coffee mugs, towels and bumper stickers in honor of Sarah’s bravery.

    The design can be previewed at: http://www.noviceproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/west-seattle-runner-sarah.jpg

    • WSB June 7, 2013 (8:27 am)

      LOL, Mark L. And thanks again for the tip.

  • CanDo June 7, 2013 (8:06 am)

    Interesting observation “markinthedark.” What is it in people that makes them want to (have to?) steal? I can walk by an unoccupied loaded-with cool-stuff garage, that has a wide open door any day of the week and not have the least little urge to take something. What makes this man’s outlook different, I wonder?

  • LStephens June 7, 2013 (8:37 am)

    Mark L, that design is terrific. Way to go Sarah!

  • Kim June 7, 2013 (8:43 am)

    Fantastic story! Sarah, your generous spirit is admirable.

  • Peeb June 7, 2013 (8:49 am)

    @Mark L — that is awesome.

    Nice work Sarah!

  • sun*e June 7, 2013 (8:53 am)

    Don’t mess with Sarah – the suspect-super-chaser!

  • x June 7, 2013 (9:07 am)

    Id totally buy some of that West Seattle Crime Runner swag if the proceeds from it go to helping less fortunate crime affected families and/or the SW precinct property crimes dept somehow.

    Not sure how realistic that is though.

  • neoyogi June 7, 2013 (9:08 am)

    THIS is the best thing I will read today. I just know it. I am laughing out loud and my office mates think I’m nuts.

  • Tim June 7, 2013 (9:24 am)

    Another benefit of running!
    Mark L, nice work, we may need to consider the update!

    Tim and Lori
    West Seattle Runner

  • Shannon Holt June 7, 2013 (9:39 am)

    My best running bud and I stopped 2 people breaking into cars (40th and Admiral) 2 weeks ago. It’s amazing what adventures you get yourself into when you get up early for a run!

  • happy June 7, 2013 (9:43 am)

    X, that is a great idea. I vote for the grocery store guy whose new bike was stolen after having it only a few weeks, and he still has most of the payments to make to the bike shop.


    “…proceeds from it go to helping less fortunate crime affected families ….”

  • Kelly June 7, 2013 (10:07 am)

    You are a brave and inspiring mama! Love it!!

  • Jody June 7, 2013 (10:14 am)

    Way to go! This makes me want to work out and run even more! Glad you are safe. Way to defend and also have caring thought for the suspect.

  • Kels June 7, 2013 (10:15 am)

    Wow – I totally want that t-shirt!

    Sadly, these types of lowlife opportunists, bored teenagers and drug addicts are roaming all of our neighborhoods every day of the week. We live near a hornet’s nest at 36th and Morgan and are always on alert.

    Just like rats, they will always be around. Just don’t leave any cheese out there for them to take. By living aware and connecting with your neighbors, you never need to live in fear.

  • WSNativeLuddite June 7, 2013 (10:17 am)

    I was one of many who witnessed this incident, & I learned something important from it. I think the most important thing Sarah did was she kept shouting “stop, thief!…someone call 911!” the entire time. This made her impossible to ignore. Initially I could not hear what she was shouting, & could easily have dismissed it as kids shouting while playing, as they often do. However, as Sarah grew nearer, I did understand her words. I dropped what I was doing, & joined a neighbor to investigate. By the time we arrived at the alley mouth on S.W. Stevens, Sarah was disappearing over the crest northbound on 48th Ave. S.W. It was heartening to see a dozen neighbors outside their homes to help her. Glad to see it turned out well.

  • wutitiz June 7, 2013 (10:18 am)

    NICE! Kudos to Sarah the Terminator, and also to West Seattle Runner if they are really doing this.

    This is remarkably close to the concept of ‘persistence hunting’ which according to a Harvard anthro prof is how humans evolved to be such good distance runners.

    Basically, it’s hunting by running the prey to exhaustion.

  • Lou June 7, 2013 (10:22 am)

    Love this story. This made me LOL. Need to get my hands on one of those stickers :-)

  • evergreen June 7, 2013 (10:32 am)

    Psychoanalysis even when in hot pursuit of a thief, love it! Laundry done, too. You are a 21st century woman!

  • kellym June 7, 2013 (10:35 am)

    I soooooo want one of those t-shirts!!! I laughed out loud at the I was planning on 6 miles but I can do 12 if I need to.

  • nomeato June 7, 2013 (11:21 am)

    She handled this situation without a gun? And she calls herself an American? Sheesh.

  • Sarah June 7, 2013 (12:06 pm)

    It is powerful to experience those primal instincts in a potentially dangerous situation. I can’t say it feels brave – I was frankly pissed and simply unwilling to be victimized or let others become victimized. Thanks for all the Kudos amigos! Love this WS community.

  • Tracie June 7, 2013 (12:07 pm)

    Wonderful power of community story. And if Sarah is not a professional writer, she needs to be! Well done all the way around.

  • Sue Sims June 7, 2013 (12:49 pm)

    That’s my Daughter-in-Law for You… She is one of the bravest, kindest “Angels” out there,,, Praise the Lord for her competiveness, compassionate nature, empowerment, sans Fear…

    We all Love HER…… (her friend and Proud mother –in Law… (Who wouldn’t be) Sue

  • EmmyJane June 7, 2013 (1:02 pm)

    Sarah is a total bad***!!!

  • Christy June 7, 2013 (1:38 pm)

    Love it. Bike thieves are almost the lowest form of criminal (except for murderers, rapists and molesters, of course). Great writing too!

  • madashell June 7, 2013 (2:25 pm)

    It was either be arrested or have a heart attack.

  • Micha June 7, 2013 (2:33 pm)

    Way to go Sarah! Loved the part that you were only planning on doing 6 miles today, but you were up to 12! Ha! I would love a shirt with the logo of her running after the would be thief. Great idea to honor such an inspirational woman!

  • WS Resident June 7, 2013 (2:42 pm)

    It worked out for her, but I agree with Scout15 – kinda stupid. She’s lucky he wasnt on something and attacked or worse shot her. Being a vigalante isnt a smart move – no one was in danger – lets let the cops do their job!

    • WSB June 7, 2013 (2:58 pm)

      Postscript: Our friends at KING 5 saw this story and asked if we could put them in touch with Sarah – she agreed to speak with them, and the resulting story is being promoted for KING’s 5 pm newscast. – TR

  • Angela G June 7, 2013 (3:42 pm)

    Go Sarah!! You rock and so do all the surrounding neighbors and police who caught this guy!

  • Rara June 7, 2013 (4:51 pm)


  • RG June 7, 2013 (4:51 pm)

    Friends at WSB,

    Let’s have a ‘Best of WSB’ section please – so this story can be number one!

  • JK June 7, 2013 (5:21 pm)

    Love this story! I’m sure Sarah will have some
    recruiters knocking on her door after this demonstration of her character.

  • AG June 7, 2013 (5:28 pm)

    WOO! That was way more fun than doing laundry. Nicely done!!!

  • para Sherry June 7, 2013 (5:43 pm)

    Sarah – Just saw your story on the news. You rock!

  • FionaEnzo June 7, 2013 (7:44 pm)

    Great story! Great tshirt!

  • West Seattle Since 1979 June 7, 2013 (7:44 pm)


  • I'mcoveredinbees June 7, 2013 (9:03 pm)

    Hilarious. Awesome story, thanks.

  • Lifetime WS. June 7, 2013 (9:22 pm)

    Cant Believe You are worried about the Thiefs well being, That’s why this stuff happens.

  • zoe baily June 7, 2013 (11:32 pm)

    Very glad Sarah wasn’t harmed. But it’s not worth risking your life for a bicycle. If the thief was armed the story may have had a very tragic ending.

  • Geoff June 7, 2013 (11:39 pm)

    I saw the story on the Friday 11 PM King5 news. They didn’t make it clear that the thief was on foot the whole way. Without that detail, one is left to wonder how she managed to catch him at all.

  • Seth Mathison June 8, 2013 (2:59 am)

    Its easy to see why my sister’s compassion and caring disposition are the first qualities someone might notice about her. Outside looking in, she’s a buck-twenty and the only thing mean about Sarah is her hugging ability. She exudes peace and love. She emanates good will toward mankind. The truth is that if you poke past the social niceties, that first layer of gooey kindness gives way to an ocean of bare-knuckled, pitbull tenacity -especially where family is concerned. I just love imagining the thief looking through Sarah’s kitchen window and not thinking twice about stealing from a 120lbs softy…then 2 minutes later desperately begging her to stop giving chase.

    So proud of you siss. You are my hero.

  • wutitiz June 8, 2013 (6:25 am)

    “]Very glad Sarah wasn’t harmed. But it’s not worth risking your life for a bicycle. If the thief was armed the story may have had a very tragic ending.

    Comment by zoe baily — 11:32 pm June 7, 2013

    It’s not about the bicycle. It’s about having a secure community. Plus, the guy went into her garage. What if one of her kids had been in there?

    If Seattle had more Sarahs, it would be a much different and much better place.

  • wutitiz June 8, 2013 (6:31 am)

    Here’s the report from King 5


  • JW June 8, 2013 (6:54 am)

    I’m guessing you sized up the perp’s mental acuity rather quickly when you noticed he did not decide to use the stolen bicycle to get away. Great. Post.

  • FionaEnzo June 8, 2013 (11:41 am)

    I went for a commemorative tshirt for this heroic feat at West Seattle Runner – alas, none have been printed. Loved the design!

  • Tim June 8, 2013 (2:07 pm)

    FionaEnzo – The shirt idea was not proposed by WSR, it was by someone within the comment section. We have no plans on making the shirt, as clever as it is. Our print process takes weeks, so by the time we had shirts in store, the novelty would be gone. Feel free to have one made on Cafe Press, or whatever company you choose. You have full permission to use our logo with the addition.

    Tim and Lori
    West Seattle Runner

  • Patti June 8, 2013 (3:01 pm)

    Nice to know I have neighbors like you around, Sarah!

  • QQman June 8, 2013 (7:55 pm)

    To all those of you who say thi was a dumb move, whatever! A dumb move would be seeing someone steal your stuff and not doing anything because you’re too afraid. The perp obviously was not armed or violent, so as far as I’m concerned this was an awesome thing to do. Too bad it didn’t happen near me, I would’ve totally tackled him for you!

  • Sassy June 11, 2013 (3:01 pm)

    Sarah – you are a rockstar!

  • Gini Johnson June 11, 2013 (4:44 pm)

    Sweet! What a great read…

  • Marie Figgins June 11, 2013 (5:06 pm)

    SARAH, you cra cra, I think I would do the same thing for justice! I pulled a guy out of my car on alki taking my purse. I think they are just startled you wont back down. I loved the fact he told you to stop following him. Good for you another great reason to be fit..aka crime fighter!

  • Toni June 11, 2013 (5:45 pm)

    Your are an inspiration! I do Pilates but can’t think of how that could help catch a thief unless I could roll my Pilates ball over him!

  • Bill June 11, 2013 (8:22 pm)

    Huh! What a great story. I especially loved the “planning to do 6 miles, but could do 12” part. You did your persistence hunting pre-historic ancestors proud, Sarah.

  • Mohan June 18, 2013 (8:11 pm)

    well done Sarah! you have fans in Singapore now

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