“I just came from the bank to get $100 to donate to the Salvation Army,” said Melanie Gates at the Salvation Army’s annual luncheon on Christmas day. “As I was walking along the trolley tracks, a guy in an all-black outfit grabbed my bag and started running toward the jail. I think he saw me at the ATM.”
Walking toward the City Administration Building on C Street were two elementary school students wearing elf outfits and red pointed caps. Their grandmother accompanied them. The thief started running west on C Street as the boys were walking east.
After Gates yelled “Stop that guy! He stole my bag,” one of the “elves,” a boy about 12 years old, stuck his foot out and tripped the thief. The other boy grabbed the purse. Many pedestrians on the way to the Christmas luncheon saw the incident, but no one reacted faster than the thief, who got up and ran away north on First Avenue.
The grandmother and the boys wanted to hurry to get into the banquet hall before the doors were closed.
“Just to thank the boy, I’m giving him $20,” said Gates. “It’s just too bad that the thief was quick to get up and run away before the cops were called.”
Gates said she didn’t want to ruin her Christmas with having to deal with the police.