Since injuring her foot a few years ago, Joyce Thomann has always worn running shoes, never realizing they'd also come in handy for chasing crooks.
Mrs. Thomann, 59, was on her way to Taco Bell in the 3000 block of Solomon's Island Road in Edgewater last January when a man came up to her, snatched her purse and took off.
"When I realized I was being robbed, that made me flat-out mad," Mrs. Thomann said.
The Annapolis woman took off after him, chasing him several hundred yards in her Saucony running shoes -- across a parking lot, behind a shopping center and to the edge of some woods, where she lost him.
Yesterday, Douglas MacArthur Brooks, 30, of the 300 block of Horaceward Road in Owings, appeared in Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, including the Jan. 7 robbery of Mrs. Thomann.
He is to be sentenced Oct. 19 by by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.
Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone told the court yesterday that Brooks was arrested a week after robbing Mrs. Thomann when he snatched a purse from another woman at an Annapolis restaurant and a witness reported his license plate to police.
Mr. Paone said that Mrs. Thomann and her husband, Charles Thomann, made ideal witnesses, identifying their assailant in separate photo line-ups the instant they were presented with his mug shot.
Mrs. Thomann said she's glad she could help, and she only hopes that Brooks will be made to pay restitution and will be put to work at some useful project if sentenced to prison.
A mother of three and a grandmother of five, she said her family was incredulous upon learning she had chased her assailant.
"They said, 'Mom, you're crazy,' " she recalled.
She also said that she realizes now that had Brooks been armed, she might have been killed.
And if she had to do it over again, she would do it the exact same way -- except maybe run a little faster. Criminals are winning the war on crime, she said, and honest people should do what they can to fight back.
She said she sees evidence of that everyday, when she drives through inner city neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., to get to her job as an office manager.
"Honest people are the ones who are suffering in this society," she said.
"They're the ones living behind bars, behind barred windows and barred doors."