A typical Sunday lunch quickly took an action packed turn after a would-be purse thief was chased down by Red Robin patrons, staff members, and an off duty corrections officer.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Stephanie Johnson was eating lunch with her family at Red Robin on Tolmie Avenue when she spotted a man “slyly” grabbing her mother and sister’s purses from an empty chair beside them at their table. She immediately yelled for him to stop and began to get up and chase the thief around the restaurant.
Soon after the chase began, restaurant staff members and other patrons joined in. According to police, the man then fled outside, crossing Blanshard Street and abandoning the purses roughly one block away from the restaurant.
As people were recovering the handbags, one restaurant manager was still in pursuit of the thief, prompting another witness who was driving by the chase to notice the incident. The new witness, reportedly an off-duty corrections officer, tracked the thief down Alder Street where he was attempting to hide behind a fence and held him there until police arrived.
“We fly out to Disneyland at 5 a.m. and passports and money were in one of the purses!” said Johnson in a Facebook post. “The staff and management at Red Robin were amazing and definitely went above and beyond.”
“Saanich police were incredibly fast,” she added.
Police say that the suspect is well known to them and was wanted for previous thefts. In addition to his previous warrants, the man is now facing 1 count of obstruction, 2 counts of theft, 3 counts of breaching his recognizance, and 4 counts of failing to comply with his probation order.
He is currently being held in custody for court.
“I’m so incredibly appreciative of the people that stepped in – if it weren’t for them the guy would be long gone!” said Johnson.
Johnson also noted that the incident serves as a good reminder to keep personal items like purses safe when out and about.