Good Samaritans chase down alleged thief after woman robbed in SF's Chinatown, leading to arrest

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A group of Good Samaritans took matters into their own hands when they witnessed an older woman getting robbed in San Francisco's Chinatown. They then worked together with San Francisco police and an arrest was made.

Lily Ho and her partner Tom House were on a routine trip to Chinatown to buy groceries on Nov. 1 when they suddenly noticed a commotion along Stockton Street. They knew they had to spring into action when they witnessed a young man snatch a cell phone right out of an older woman's hand.

"When you see someone especially an older woman yelling for help, you just help and react," Lily and Tom said, nearly in tandem.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory donates 50,000 cookies to sheriffs, hospitals

House said Ho was driving and asked her if he should go after the suspect. She vehemently said "yes" and the pair took off, chasing the man in their Jeep. A couple blocks later when House, a 25-year service member, jumped out and gave chase on foot.

"I turn and I say 'hey give me the phone back' and he like turned and looked his eyes got really big and he turned and threw the phone at me," he said.

Also witnessing the incident was Leanna Louie, a U.S. Army Veteran, and Rob Lowe. They're the founders of the United Peace Corps, a neighborhood watch group, formed at the beginning of the outbreak. They stood by to console the victim and then jumped in themselves.

"We chased him down to Turk Murphy alley across from the station," Louie said.

Thanks to community teamwork, San Francisco police arrested a suspect right across from the Chinatown police station.

One of the Good Samaritans took a photo of who they say is the suspect, slumped up against the wall with an officer standing nearby. Police say they're appreciative of the community working together, but with hesitations.

RELATED: Weekend street closure boosts business in San Francisco's Chinatown amid COVID-19 pandemic

"We're so happy nobody was injured in this incident, that's always a good thing, although we don't recommend citizens approach or confront suspects on their own accord," said Tiffany Hang, public information officer for the department.

When asked if he questioned his safety?

"I sat back and thought about it, and I was like, if he had a gun and turned and shot, it would've been bad," House said. "But I don't know. I didn't think of it at the time I just jumped."

Both groups of Good Samaritans have a request to others who might one day be witnesses to crimes themselves.

"We have seen so many of these cases that just go unnoticed and un-arrested," Louie said.

"What we should all do as a community: See something, Say something, do something," Ho said.

San Francisco police say the investigation is still ongoing.

VIDEO: How San Francisco's Chinatown is planning to lure locals back for the holidays
EMBED More News Videos

San Francisco's Chinatown is oftentimes a bustling place during the holidays, a place for tourists and locals like to buy unique gifts and for some, eat Chinese food instead of the traditional turkey.

Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.