Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Woman chases down fleeing thieves at a Wal-Mart, jumps on hood; 3 arrested


It wasn't her beer.
Monique Lawless had nothing personal at stake when she saw three men leaving a Walmart store in Alvin with three cases of beer they didn't pay for. She was a customer, not an employee, of the store.
Yet Lawless, who stands just under 5 feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, took off in pursuit of the three much larger men.
"I'm just sick of the lawlessness," the 42-year-old Alvin woman said. "They knew their chances of getting caught were slim to none. Those kids would have gotten away with it, celebrated their theft and probably continue to do it."

The three alleged thieves were arrested — at another Walmart store in Pearland near Texas 288 — after an hourlong chase. But Lawless' efforts to stop them came at a price: a scratched face, broken lip and scrapes and bruises to her legs.
Lawless, an engineering safety specialist at Boeing, was in line at the Alvin Walmart Supercenter just before noon Sunday when she saw the men enter the store and quickly leave with the beer.
She informed a sales clerk, who waved at a Walmart greeter to stop them. He briefly detained two of the suspects, but they broke loose to join the third man in their getaway car.
"I holler at the clerk to watch my purse," Lawless said, "and I take off after them."

Jumped on hood

She spotted the men getting into an older-model sports car "so I just started running towards the car, jumped on the hood and was kicking at the front windshield, trying to kick the windshield in," she said.
"I am screaming, 'You punks, you are not going to get away with this,' and people are looking at me, thinking what's wrong with her?" Lawless said. "People were just standing around, probably thinking I am crazy."
Her crime-fighting effort didn't stop there.
"Then I jumped on the roof and tried to kick in the sunroof, and in the meantime they're just laughing," said Lawless, a mother of two. "I was really upset then. I was mad."

Action not recommended

When the driver started the car, Lawless slid down the top of the vehicle and grabbed the driver's door handle. The vehicle lunged forward and she let go, but not before being dragged along the pavement.
She declined medical treatment at the scene, but took the day off from work Monday to recuperate.
Alvin police Capt. Chad Fontenot said he appreciated Lawless' courage, but she was lucky.
"In this case, it was not a good thing to do," Fontenot said. "While we appreciate the sentiment, she put herself in grave danger with this theft. She did get injured but it could have been worse.
"Because you don't know if the person is armed or their mental status, the best people can do is to be a great witness," he said. "Get a license plate and a good description. In this case you had three young men in a vehicle that she took on by herself. Those are not good odds in any situation."
The three men, who are brothers, were in the Brazoria County Jail on Monday facing charges of felony evading arrest and aggravated robbery. Sylvester Andre Thompson, 21; Sylvester Durlentren Thompson, 21; and Sylvester Primitivo Thompson, 19, live at 4925 Harbin in Santa Fe.
Attempts to contact Walmart Monday were unsuccessful.
Would Lawless do the same thing again?
"Probably," she said, "but I would probably throw a shopping cart in front of the car instead of jumping on the hood and roof."

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