Purse snatcher caught by hero

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, December 22, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Chasing down a purse snatcher was probably one of the last things Tavis Graham of Dowagiac expected to do when he was driving to the Niles Martin's Supermarket after getting off work at French Paper Co. Monday.
Call it fate, providence, or coincidence, Graham just said he was in the right place at the right time.
Around 3:30 p.m., the 37-year-old Graham was traveling westbound down Superior Street when he almost struck Phillip Michael Trowbridge, 18, of Niles, who ran in front of Graham's Ford Explorer.
When Graham looked around, he saw an elderly lady waving her arms, calling for help. At that point, he knew something was amiss.
Graham drove his car off-road and pursued Trowbridge northbound across the empty lot behind A &J Rentals, Inc. When Trowbridge reached Michigan Street, he ran behind a row of houses, Graham said.
At that point, Graham exited his vehicle and continued the pursuit on foot behind the houses. Graham ran about one block west before he found Trowbridge hiding between a car and garage.
Graham jumped on Trowbridge in an effort to hold him until Niles City Police arrived at the scene. "He was a big boy, he put up a struggle," Graham said.
Graham estimated Trowbridge's height to be about 6-foot tall, while Graham measures only 5-foot 6.
Luckily, a man from one of the nearby houses came outside and helped him hold Trowbridge down until police arrived. Niles City Police arrested Trowbridge pending charges for strongarm robbery.
Graham discovered the stolen purse when he followed Trowbridge's footprints in the snow back to a trash can, where the suspect apparently attempted to dump the purse.
After retrieving the purse, Graham returned to Martin's. Much to his surprise, he was rewarded for his bravery with a $25 gift card from the store.
Graham said he did what he felt was right, especially during the holiday season.
Niles Martin's store manager Jim Krempetz was grateful Graham went to the lengths he did to catch the purse snatcher.
Most people might have ignored what happened and I think it's pretty incredible that somebody would take the initiative to get involved," he said.
Graham later learned the woman who had her purse stolen was a retired employee of Martin's Supermarket from a friend of his wife who works at the store.