NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray

An Alexandria man and woman suspected of stealing clothes from Del Ray vintage shop La Brocante were chased and tracked down by locals before being arrested on Saturday evening.

The 59-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman were arrested and charged with petit larceny-shoplifting after getting their location from witnesses on what was otherwise a beautiful night along Mount Vernon Avenue.

At around 6:30 p.m. on April 10, the female suspect walked in and asked shop owner Alex Holden for help finding clothes for her baby granddaughter. Just a moment before, one of Holden’s employees was alarmed when the woman reportedly said that didn’t know whether she had a granddaughter or a grandson.

Then, a bystander ran into the shop and announced that the male suspect was running off with armfuls of children’s clothes.

Holden ran outside and saw the suspect allegedly walking quickly a block away with the clothes. That’s when she and a number of residents and  outdoor diners started to shout, “Stop that man!”

A chase ensued for more than a half hour as the suspect was pursued over fences and through neighborhoods, and even a man on an electric scooter. Holden eventually got into her car and tracked the suspect down. She drove alongside him as he ran, she said.

“He was running and I pulled even with him in my car,” Holden told ALXnow. “I yelled, ‘Give me my clothes! I’ve been working since 7 a.m. and I’m still at work!’ and you’ll never believe what he yelled back. He goes, ‘No way! This is what I do.’ That’s when I hit the gas and cut him off by blocking his path next to a fence. And you know what he did? He jumped the fence holding all those clothes. The guy was like a gazelle. I swear to God, and he was not a young man.”

Holden and a number of other Del Ray residents chased after the suspect, and, when he was cornered, he allegedly turned around and threw all of the stolen clothing, hangars included, in the air before taking off again. Police eventually caught up with the suspect after witnesses provided them with his location. The woman who was charged with him is suspected of acting as a diversion, and was followed to her car by residents who wrote down her license plate number.

“I went back to the store and people were sitting outside eating their dinner (on Mount Vernon Avenue) and clapping,” Holden said. “It was like dinner and a show for everyone eating out and watching us. It was wild.”

Holden wanted to thank the community for helping her.

The Del Ray community is not going to put up with this,” she said. “I mean, people were on their balconies shouting, folks were jumping fences. It was hilarious.”

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