TAYLORSVILLE, Utah -- A Taylorsville grandmother is thanking the good Samaritans who jumped in to help chase a parking lot purse thief, who took off running with the woman's belongings.
Thanks to the actions of one bystander, police later caught up to the suspect and the woman says she got some special, irreplaceable items back.
On Tuesday, Chris Lee said he saw something out of place as he walked across the parking lot of the Taylorsville Walmart.
"A male with a purse, which is obviously strange, running full steam," he said.
He also heard a woman's screams for help.
"I yelled, 'Hey, hey, hey!'" recounted Sherri Murray, after watching a young man snatch a purse from her cart while she stood next to it.
"I immediately realized what was happening," Lee said.
He and a couple others immediately began to chase the suspect across the parking lot, his adrenaline running.
"He was cutting through cars, and I was gaining on him," Lee said.
But, he said the suspect hopped into the passenger seat of a getaway car, slammed the door—and stared straight at Lee as they began to peel out.
"I jumped out of the way right before they about ran me over," he said.
The thief, with Sherri's purse and her belongings, disappeared.
"I felt so bad, she was distressed," Lee said. "She thought everything that she had in that purse was gone forever."
That included Murray's wallet, which she said was a gift from her late husband.
"My husband bought it for me when we were on a trip in Germany," she explained.
But, before that car sped away, Lee had memorized the license plate.
Thanks to that, Murray police said they tracked the car down just three hours later.
The car was stolen, they said. A detective attempted to pull it over near Murray High School, and police said the two people in the car took off running. Police caught up to them.
In addition to the car, they recovered a stolen gun from the scene. Not long after that, a Murray detective showed up to Murray's house.
"Detective said, 'We've caught the culprits,'" Murray said.
In addition to delivering the good news, they wanted to return something to her.
"He handed me my wallet. Everything was in there except my cash," she said.
Later, Murray got another update but this time, from Lee.
"Mr. Lee called, and he said, 'You will never believe this,'" she said.
He had gotten a call that someone found her phone.
It was cracked, but Murray was relieved to have it back because, like the wallet, it also had irreplaceable, sentimental value as it contains Murray's last photos of her husband.
The reason Lee had found it, they explained, was because he had sent a text message plea to Murray's phone with hopes the thief would see it.
"It has sentimental value. Please have a heart," Lee said, reading the text message.
While the thief didn't text back, he said someone at Murray High School found the phone and called his number to return it.
Unified Police found Murray's last missing item—her purse. She said the thief dumped it near the Walmart, and she picked it up from Police on Thursday.
Not only does she have police to thank for recovering her items, but a total stranger who she now calls her friend.
"He was a great help to me," Murray said, as she gave Lee a hug.
Murray Police said Thursday the two suspects in the stolen car are juveniles and will face a number of charges related to the purse theft, running from police, the stolen car and the stolen firearm.