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Bystander Foot Chase Nabs Detroit Wallet Thief

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Greektown (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Greektown (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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DETROIT (AP) - A teenager’s attempt to snatch a wallet at a popular downtown Detroit restaurant turned into a foot chase that included the attorney he tried to rob, another county official, eatery staff, bystanders and a street-corner saxophone player.

Donn Fresard, chief of staff in the Wayne County prosecutor’s office, said he had just finished paying for his lunch at Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Cafe in the city’s Greektown entertainment district on Wednesday, when the 14-year-old boy snatched the wallet off the table and sprinted through a door.

“I saw out of the corner of my eye a hand taking my wallet,” Fresard told The Associated Press on Friday.  “He was barreling away and I took off after him.”

Fresard, Wayne County Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood and others gave chase.

Outside, musician and out-of-work Detroit Public Schools janitor David Willis put his saxophone under his arm and followed. Another man tackled the youth around the block – seconds after the chase began.

“The guy coming around the corner (was) yelling, `Get him! He took my wallet,”’ Willis told The Detroit News.

“I’m on it because I’m tired of this,” Willis added.  “People have tried to steal the change from my box, the sunglasses off my face. I’m tired of people in our town being put upon.”

Detroit police arrived just as the boy was caught.

“The happy ending is the way all the people around there pitched in to help, and that Greektown is a safe place,” Fresard said.

A waitress found the wallet nearby while heading to work and was taking it to the restaurant’s lost-and-found when she learned it had just been snatched, Fresard said.

The contents, including $100 in cash, still were inside. Fresard said he gave $20 to the waitress and $10 to Willis.

The youth said he didn’t take the wallet. He has no previous criminal record and was handed over to one of his parents while authorities are considering charges, said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.

“I’d like to see him be in school when he’s supposed to be,” said Fresard, noting the incident took place during the middle of the day.  “I’d like to see him finish school.”

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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