by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:
SEATTLE - A woman leaving her South Seattle restaurant Saturday night caught a man in the middle of looting her car.
Melissa Lopez said she had put a bag, which held her purse and laptop, on the floor of her vehicle and then remembered something she left inside her Rainier Avenue restaurant, Corazon Taqueria.
She thought she locked the car doors, but when she came back out a minute later, she found the man in mid-theft.
"I just ran up on him and just shoved him into the door," she said. "I was like, 'Hey! That's mine!'"
Lopez said she didn't have time to be afraid. She tried to wrestle the bag away from him.
Most of the contents of her wallet, including her credit cards, cash, and IDs, fell to the ground, but he took off with her bag and laptop.
"He's running and I'm running behind him, screaming, 'Help!'" she said.
He jumped into a pale blue SUV parked behind the restaurant and Lopez jumped right in front of it, continuing to scream.
She said in her peripheral vision, she saw neighbors coming out of their homes, and started yelling the suspect's license plate, hoping someone would write it down.
Then the boyfriend of one of her employees ran up and lunged through the open driver's side window, trying to grab her bag from the suspect.
"Then he just kicked it into reverse and drove off, but the guy was still partially in the car," she said.
Her employee's boyfriend jumped away from the vehicle. The suspect, with a woman in his passenger seat, took off.
Lopez said police responded quickly and estimates it took only an hour for officers, using her description of the man, car, and license plate, to find and arrest the suspect. Police did not find her laptop at his home.
"It is frustrating," she said.
Lopez said the area has its problems, but on her block, near homes, next to a church, and across the street from the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, she's always felt safe.
"This community is really great and supportive and friendly but there's still stuff that happens," she said, "and it just happened to me."