People often wonder what they would do if they had the opportunity to apprehend a criminal or witness a crime.
Would you be able to act in time? Would you be quick on your feet, or be able to speak up and alert the proper authorities?
One homeless man in San Francisco, California, no longer has to wonder about what he would do. He lived it.
While hanging out at the local McDonald’s, Matthew Hay-Chapman noticed something a little out of the ordinary. He’d stopped by to get some coffee, part of his normal routine.
A van was parked nearby, and it flagged for Hay-Chapman. It reminded him of a time when he’d once lived in such a setup, but it also triggered a more recent memory.
“I noticed people were sleeping in there cause windows were all steamed up cause of heavy, heavy condensation,” Hay-Chapman said.
“I thought to myself, there’s two people in that van cause I used to live in a GMC van many years ago when I had a job. Then I looked at the plates. No plates.”
Hay-Chapman was homeless, but he wasn’t oblivious. He’d learned to live on the streets, but he kept up with the world by reading discarded papers.
The van matched one he’d seen in a newspaper recently, after three inmates had escaped from an Orange County, California, prison. The newspaper had also printed photos of the men on the lam.
When someone got out of the van, the homeless man recognized him, too. His suspicions were confirmed: these were the wanted men.
A cop was nearby, and Hay-Chapman desperately tried to get his attention.
“I’m like this flagging him down, like right there, you know?” said Hay-Chapman. “And I point and he sees me. He’s across the street, directly across the street.
“And I’m going (gestures) cause I’m right behind holding my cane like this. Body language, boom! That’s the guy!”
The fugitive soon realized his freedom was being threatened, and he took off. The cop raced after him and was soon joined by another — but in an ironic turn of events, the runaway inmate ran right to the police station.
Hay-Chapman also pointed police in the direction of the stolen van, where they apprehended another criminal.
Hay-Chapman was eventually awarded a “finder’s fee” of $100,000 for helping to track down these inmates. He was excited at the prospect of receiving the cash (who wouldn’t be?).
The helpful citizen planned to use the cash to get himself back up on his feet as well as help out some family members who were struggling at the time.
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