Longtime Langley resident Bonnie Mitten stood next to her SUV on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 15. Mitten was unloading groceries at her SUV a couple of weeks ago when a thief stole her bag from her shoulder. A handful of Good Samaritans rushed to help her recover her stolen items. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Longtime Langley resident Bonnie Mitten stood next to her SUV on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 15. Mitten was unloading groceries at her SUV a couple of weeks ago when a thief stole her bag from her shoulder. A handful of Good Samaritans rushed to help her recover her stolen items. Troy Landreville Langley Times

‘Guardian angels’ rush to help victim of purse snatching

Woman thanks quick actions and selflessness of total strangers

A brazen robbery in broad daylight is never good news.

But a woman whose bag was stolen as she unloaded groceries came away unharmed — and extremely thankful to several strangers who went out of their way to help her.

As Bonnie Mitten, 61, unloaded bags of groceries into her SUV in the Langley Walmart parking lot on a recent rainy Monday afternoon, a man ran up to her, grabbed her bag containing her wallet and took off.

Just before the bag was snatched off her shoulder, Mitten caught a peripheral glimpse of a man wearing a grey hoodie pulled over his head running toward her “at full speed” on the south side of the Walmart building.

“He just grabbed my bag and kept running,” Mitten said. “I was so mad”

Mitten gave chase while screaming repeatedly, “He stole my purse!”

“I kept running as I was yelling. I knew there were people around that hopefully would do something,” Mitten said.

In mid-stride, the suspect rummaged through the bag. He found what he was looking for (Mitten’s wallet) and then tossed the bag aside.

“I was telling him, ‘I’m calling the police, I’m calling the police,’” Mitten related.

This chaotic scene caught the attention of several passersby.

Among the group of Good Samaritans was a woman named Diane, who drove to the north side of the building where she found the man sorting through Mitten’s wallet.

She told him the police were coming, that she was watching him and he had better not take anything. Then she saw him pitch the wallet into a collection of empty shopping carts. After that, Diane followed the thief up the street until he disappeared along a foot path, and she couldn’t follow him any farther.

Diane returned to the parking lot and led Mitten to the spot where the suspect had discarded her wallet. Other than a gift card with only a few dollars remaining on it, everything inside Mitten’s wallet, including her credit and debit cards, was recovered.

“It was a miraculous outcome,” Mitten said, “because how many times do you get everything back? And how many times do you not get knocked over and a hip broken, or whatever?”

As the scene unfolded on the north side of the building, a woman unloaded Mitten’s groceries into her SUV, closed the rear hatch, and then went into the service area at Walmart to let Mitten know that her groceries and vehicle were looked after.

As well, a mother who saw Mitten chasing the suspect had someone watch her two children so she could retrieve the purse and cellphone and bring it to the Walmart service area. She took the time to carefully ensure it was returned to its rightful owner.

Mitten also thanked the Walmart security and staff who assisted, and the responding RCMP officer who took the information.

“I thank God for all of these guardian angels who were willing to get involved,” Mitten said. “It was just like the good Lord had all these wonderful people that really didn’t have to get involved but chose to get involved and watch over me.”

She added that without the intervention of these “wonderful people” an incident like this could have been very traumatic.

“Instead, because of all of these amazing and caring people, who were willing to get involved and help in any way that they could, it confirms once again for me that we live in a terrific community with amazing, caring and helpful people and for this I am truly thankful,” Mitten said.