Friday, 22 Sep 2023

This Philly Running Group Ran Down and Caught a Thief

The lunch run is cherished by all who are able to get out for a few relaxing miles to split up the day. That was the hope for the Annenberg (Lunchtime) Running Group last month—until they had to spring into action.

Group members Kyle Cassidy, Natalie Herbert, and Samantha Oliver were waiting for one more member to join their midday run, when a man sprinted by at a very quick pace. That caught their eye, to say the least.

“Right by us sprinted a very fast man, probably running a 7:15 pace,” Cassidy told Runner’s World. “We were impressed by his speed.”

But then they quickly realized why the man, later identified by police as Talib Adams, moved with such haste.

“Half a minute later, some other man came huffing and puffing, yelling, ‘Help me, help me. That man robbed me. He took my phone and laptop,’” Cassidy said. “We all looked at each other and sprinted off after the first person.”

Suddenly thrown into the plot of a chase scene, the group tore down the streets of Philadelphia in pursuit. They tracked him until he ducked into a construction site around 37th and Chestnut Streets.

“It was just like in a movie with giant machines and loud sounding ringing, and sparks flying everywhere,” Cassidy said. “We didn’t go in.”

Instead, the group split up. Cassidy went around the far side of the construction site to cut off the thief, a full city block around.

While Cassidy cut off the far side, Herbert and Oliver waited a bit before doing some canvasing in the neighborhood. Among the school buildings and rows of houses around the college campus, they found one with a high fence that seemed a prime place for dumping the criminal’s loot.

“It turns out our police procedural watching actually prepared us for this,” Herbert told Runner’s World.

The duo knocked on the door, with the intention of letting the residents know that the thief may have dumped loot in their backyard. As they were invited inside, the criminal took off from his hiding place in the bushes out front. Cassidy, who had met back up with Herbert and Oliver, attempted to chase the subject, but felt a snap in his calf, which turned out to be torn calf muscle. He went down, unable to pursue, and was out of the fight.

But the chase quickly came to end after that, as the suspect ran right into the path of responding University of Pennsylvania police officers, who detained the man. Cassidy was later taken from the scene in a stretcher and treated for his injury at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

According to Cassidy, the officers found the capture fairly amusing.

“We heard the first officer yell to the other officers, ‘It’s a running club,’” he said. “‘This guy tried to run from the running club.’”

When asked if any of them had GPS-tracked the chase, they weren’t sure. But they were sure that they were counting it as their workout for the day.

“It was world’s most interesting fartlek,” Herbert said.

Looking back, they group is proud of their heroic efforts, but isn’t sure they would do it again.

“We were a little surprised after we thought about it,” Oliver told Runner’s World. “It’s not something we’d recommend. We benefited from safety in numbers, but also in an area that is relatively safe near a college campus in the middle of the day. It wasn’t necessarily the best thing to do, but it ended up with a good outcome and no confrontation.”

Though the actions were brave, the Division of Public safety at the University of Pennsylvania advised a different approach should you ever run into a similar situation.

“We would advise any witness to always put their own safety first, and contact local law enforcement with information to ensure apprehension of a suspect,” Kathleen Shields Anderson, the director of operations and external affairs for the Division of Public Safety, told Runner’s World.

The Annenberg Running Group has continued its runs since, and Cassidy has returned from his injury. The group meets for midday runs and welcomes anyone who wants to join them. They work to hold each other accountable, so everyone gets out for their runs.

From: Runner’s World US

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