This past Wednesday, Lee Peters spotted a man and a woman attempting to steal his bike near the Christian Science Plaza. As he approached (he later wrote in an e-mail to members of the bicycle-advocacy group Boston Critical Mass), the male thief “took a swing at me with the bolt cutters. I ducked. He ran. I got on my bike to follow. I couldn’t find him.”
But the story didn’t end there. Three hours later, Peters received an e-mail update, headed “This is so cool!”, from ChristianScience Monitor staffer Andrew Heining, a stranger to Peters but a Critical Mass member. Heining had witnessed the incident from across Mass Ave and had impulsively pursued the fleeing male bike thief (the woman had, by then, escaped). Shouting at passers-by to call the police, he pedaled after the man, who was on foot, for a few blocks, fueled by a large amount of adrenaline and a little desire for revenge. (Heining previously had two bikes stolen in the same area.)
Eventually, the runaway thief tired and the two faced off on Dalton Street, near Jasper White’s Summer Shack. The thief, wrote Heining, “swung his bag with the bolt cutters in it at me, and we got into a scuffle.” The bike-napper escaped yet again, but Heining’s shouts for police proved effective. A cruiser pulled up, Heining hopped in, and the chase continued.
“The call went out and like five cars responded, Dragnet style,” writes Heining to the Phoenix by e-mail. About 10 minutes later, officers arrested the alleged culprit near Match, on Mass Ave, and Heining identified him. Police charged the perp, James Johnson, with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, “possession of burglarious instruments,” attempt to commit a crime, and receiving stolen property, according to Erika Gully-Santiago, a spokesperson for the Suffolk County DA’s office. Johnson was held on $5000 bail, with a court date set for October 9.
So what was Peters’s response to all this? He offered Heining the best reward possible, next to Internet fame: beer.