NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters on the Lower East Side added ‘crime fighting’ to their job description on Monday.

As CBS2’s Elise Finch reported, they were on their way to lunch when they said they saw a pickpocket at work.

Firefighter Kevin Ruiz said his company’s truck was stopped at a red light on First Avenue between 13th and 14th streets when he witnessed a crime.

“We stopped in front of a fruit stand. At that moment a female was making a transaction and she had her bag completely open and a gentleman snuck up behind her, went into her bag, and took her phone. The woman didn’t even know the phone was taken,” he said.

“At first I thought it was just like a joke. Like I thought the guy knew the lady, but the next thing you know the guy started walking away,” firefighter Sandy Guzman said.

When they realized it wasn’t a joke the two firefighters inside the truck called the cops while Ruiz and Guzman ran towards the man.

When he saw them approach the suspect quickly returned the woman’s phone and took off running.

“I just heard a commotion and I looked out and saw the Fire Department running after somebody,” Eli Niyazov, Manager, Salon Icon said.

Firefighters chased the man down 13th Street from First Ave to Avenue B, where they held him until police arrived.

“He just kept repeating that the woman got her phone back, there’s no reason for this,” Ruiz said, “That the phone was just falling and he was just picking it up and returning it to her.”

The firefighters said their actions were part of their commitment to keep people safe.

Residents said they are grateful.

“They’re men of valor, let’s face it. I’m always impressed with them,” Judith Mortillo said.

There was no word Monday night on any pending charges for the alleged mugger.

 

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