Marc Freelander was just minding his own business, coming out of the Lamonts at University City after shopping for a dress shirt and cologne.
All of a sudden, he heard voices yelling “Stop him! Stop him!” and spotted a man running through the mall.
Freelander’s training as a former security guard kicked in, and he tackled the man, who had just stolen several diamonds from a U-City jewelry store.
“I grabbed hold of his waist,” said Freelander, 25.
The Valley resident’s efforts to stop the thief from stealing three diamond sets and a solitary diamond on April 29 were rewarded Wednesday.
Sheriff John Goldman presented Freelander with the Concerned Citizens Award at a 6 p.m. ceremony at the University SCOPE (Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort) substation, 15th and University.
The thief had entered Mandell’s Jewelers at U-City, jumped over the counter and grabbed three sets of diamond rings together valued at $6,935 and a solitary diamond valued at $3,450, sheriff’s Lt. David Wiyrick said.
When Freelander tackled the thief, diamonds flew out of his hand, Freelander said.
The man reportedly put the solitary diamond in his mouth.
“I tried to pull him down,” Freelander said. “I jumped on his back.”
The thief had left his vehicle running in the parking lot. Freelander tried unsuccessfully to remove the keys.
“I was hanging onto his car,” he said.
The man drove off, but Freelander and witnesses gave deputies a description of him and his car, a gray 1970s Chevrolet Nova with Idaho license plates.
However, no arrest has been made.
Freelander, a college student, said the tackle took the thief by surprise. Deputies described the man as 5-foot-9 and 220 pounds.
“I’m 5-foot-7 and about 183 pounds,” Freelander said. “He was shocked that some guy like me was trying to stop him.”
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