Sociology chair’s intervention in robbery leads to arrest

The chair of the sociology department chased down a woman who tried to steal one of his employee’s wallets Wednesday, preventing her from fleeing campus until police officers could arrive.

Executive assistant Octavia Kelsey reported that her wallet had been stolen around 2 p.m. Wednesday and alerted department chair Steven Tuch. Tuch then saw the thief quickly flee from the office and chased after her.

“I wasn’t thinking a whole lot. I just reacted,” he said.

Tuch followed a woman down three flights of stairs and two blocks of I Street. As the two “walked briskly” down I Street, Tuch told a colleague to have UPD officers go to the Foggy Bottom Metro station. The woman tried to hail a taxi on 23rd Street, but Tuch told the driver the woman was wanted by the police. She then tried to hail a different taxi, but police officers were on the scene before she could escape. Officers recognized the woman as a repeat offender, Tuch said.

The woman, whose name was not released, has been barred from campus three times since 2006, University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said.

Tuch said the sociology department has been robbed about six times in the last couple of years, and he did not want to let it happen again.

“I was frankly irritated that we had been hit again and that the wallet of my staff member had been stolen,” he said. “I wanted to get it back. It’s as simple as that.”

Stafford said it was later discovered that the woman had ditched the wallet inside the sociology department, but she was still arrested for robbery. It was unclear why she was on campus.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.