Tess Aboughoushe, a long-distance runner from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, reacted immediately when she heard the scream for help.
“I was walking back to my office and crossing the street and a lady calls out, ‘Stop. Thief. He took my wallet,'” she told CBC News.
“Just like in the movies, she screams and I see this man start to run. I didn’t stop to think or anything. I just kind of took off after the guy.”
Aboughoushe might have had the stamina to catch the robber, but she certainly didn’t have the physical attributes to finish the rescue.
At five-foot-three, her heart was racing when she turned the corner and saw that the robber had stopped.
The thief put his hand in his pocket and Aboughoushe feared he was reaching for a knife. Then, the man started to cry from his position behind a dumpster.
“He came out from behind the dumpster and says, in a conciliatory way, ‘Here is the wallet, I can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry, just take it, take it,’ ” Aboughoushe recalled.
“So I took the wallet, and the woman caught up soon after. I gave it back to her and he stayed there, apologizing a lot.”
After seeing the way the thief reacted to the situation, Aboughoushe knew something else was going on.
She wished the woman a happy Valentine’s Day, then pulled the thief aside and invited him to coffee.
Aboughoushe learned that the thief wasn’t a career scumbag, but a man with no money and no idea what to do. He was visiting with friends, but they left without him.
So, the man was stranded in a foreign city with no money and no way to get home. As a last resort, he decided to snatch someone’s purse.
“He said, ‘I’ve never done anything like this before. I just really need the money. I don’t know where to go. I’m lost,’ ” Aboughoushe said.
When they finished their coffee, Aboughoushe told the man where to find the local library in the hopes that one of the social workers would be able to help him.
She filed a police report but said she didn’t want to punish this lost man any further.
“You kill more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” she said. “I wanted to show him some compassion.”
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