I was sitting at the breakfast table yesterday, enjoying what is left of the LA Times, when I heard screaming outside my dining room window. At first I thought it was some rowdy teenaged girls walking down Guthrie Ave. (we get a lot of that), but as I listened I heard fear and eventually intelligible words emerged from the screams: "Help me! My purse! Help!!" I ran out front in my pajamas to see a woman running down the street after a pair of young girls who had snatched her purse and were fleeing on foot north up Stearns. Before I knew it I and a phalanx of other neighbors, drawn by her screams, had taken off up the street in hot pursuit of the two perps. The fastest among us was neighbor Scott, who steadily gained on the two girls. It was obvious Scott was about to catch them, so the girls stopped, turned and threw the purse at him with a huff of annoyance. He picked it up and they trotted off, turning the corner and disappearing. The whole exchange was so casual, for a moment I wondered whether I was actually witnessing a crime. Scott returned the bag to the victim, who had run out of steam halfway up the block and was catching her breath on neighbor Gabrielle's steps.
Grateful to have her bag returned, the woman explained that she walks through our neighborhood every morning to get to her job on La Cienega. This morning the girls had approached her outside my house, slapped her on the face and grabbed her purse so fast they broke the strap. The woman was frightened, but unhurt. A witness pulled up to the curb to offer help, but Gabrielle had already called the police and they were on their way.
The woman, clearly still shaken said, "I was so scared and I was screaming, but I didn't think anyone would come, and then you all did!"
"Well welcome to Faircrest Heights," I said, "where the neighbors kick ass."