Last week I jumped off the bus onto the sidewalk on my way to meet some friends for dinner. A man came running towards me through the crowd on the sidewalk and I heard a woman yelling, "Stop him!" The woman and another man were chasing him.
I thought he had grabbed her purse. I briefly thought about tripping him but thought that might end up backfiring and screwing up my "good" knee. So I stepped in front of him and countered his moves back and forth once or twice, figuring that the people chasing him might catch up with him. He juked right to lose me and sort of pushed me out of his way in the process. I turned around and a quick thinking pedestrian stuck out his umbrella and tripped the guy, tackling him down to the ground.
The hero pedestrian layed on top of him while the victim woman ran up and grabbed her cell phone out of his hand. I heard the hero pedestrian say a couple of times, "Lay still and you won't get hurt," which my coworker tells me is what cops are trained to say. Maybe the hero pedestrian was an off-duty cop or a former cop. Anyway, his quick thinking got that woman's phone back (note to self - don't walk in public with your phone exposed). The woman used that very phone to call the police and it wasn't long before two cruisers pulled up and took him away.
We all had one of those "Not on MY Watch" crime-fighting moments where the bad guy was subdued through the combined efforts of the good citizens. Of course, when I realized that it was just a phone I thought, "Whatever, it's just a phone." Then I realized that if I lost my phone I would lose a lot of contacts and pictures that might never be recovered (note to self - back up your contacts and download your pictures). Recovering lost contacts can take a significant amount of time and money and smart phones can contain passwords, etc. That guy could have caused her a lot of grief and it's unlikely the police would do much about a stolen cellphone, so good for her.
I realized that if that guy had had a knife he likely would have stabbed me for getting in his way. I'm glad I didn't try to trip him, although if he were attacking somebody, especially a woman, I'd like to think I would try to intervene. I'm not sure a cellphone is worth risking my life over but a woman being attacked...I would hope that I would do the right thing, whatever that is.