A day of shopping turned into a game of police pursuit for a Michigan family recently - except this was no game. The family of five apprehended a thief who had just boosted Mom's credit card.

Using a Tile to Track the Bad Guy

Julie Kobylarz dashed into Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor to pick up a few things while Bryan Heckenkamp waited in the car with the couple's three children. But when she reached the checkout, Kobylarz noticed her purse was open. She tells Mlive that she found this strange and immediately grew suspicious.

“I just kind of had a sinking feeling, and when I looked inside, sure enough, my wallet was not there,” Kobylarz said.

Kobylarz notes that she had a Tile tracking device attached to her wallet and determined that her wallet had left the store about 10 minutes earlier.

As she and Heckenkamp began the process of filing a police report, she got a fraud alert on her phone notifying her that there had been a purchase of roughly $2,000 at an Apple Store.

Cornering a Crook in a Shoe Store

The couple - with their three young children in tow - raced to the Apple store at nearby Briarwood Mall.

While Julie spoke with Apple employees, she got yet another fraud alert on her phone, notifying her that a transaction at a shoe store in the mall had been denied.

Heckenkamp says his wife dashed out of the electronics store in pursuit of the man who was trying to use her card in the shoe store.

“Sure enough, there was a guy at the checkout counter with my green Cash App card in hand,” Kobylarz said.


The Chase Was on

Kobylarz was able to grab her card and the bag of stolen iPhones and began chasing the man who took off into the mall.

She goes on to tell Mlive that the next couple of minutes felt like a movie.

Several bystanders jumped in to help Julie chase the man through the mall and her husband then tagged in as he handed one of their kids to her.

Ultimately, he and a couple of bystanders apprehended the thief just outside the mall entrance, where they waited for police. Heckenkamp noted that the man did not put up a fight after he was cornered. After police arrived, they arrested the 26-year-old thief.

Chasing a Criminal - Not a Great Choice

Looking back on the situation, Kobylarz, recognizes that chasing after the man may have not been the best decision, but she's glad it all worked out.

“In retrospective, I probably should not have — it probably wouldn’t have been safe,” Kobylarz said. “But in the moment, with the adrenaline. You feel violated. Somebody stole from you, and you want to get it back.”


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