When a shoplifter decided to snag some swag from a Walmart in Plano, Texas, on Dec. 9, he committed a critical intelligence error: The local Marine Corps League was hosting a Toys for Tots donation drive in front of the business.
And you know what that means: There were Marines on hand — including at least one former gunnery sergeant who’s clearly kept up with daily PT since getting out.
When Marine veteran Nathan Hanson saw fellow volunteers chasing a man out of the store last Saturday, his first thought was that the thief had stolen from Toys for Tots, an annual-Corps sponsored campaign to collect new and unwrapped Christmas gifts for children in the community, according to KXAS-TV, a Fort Worth, Texas-based NBC news station.
“I just saw some of our other volunteers trying to grab this guy,” Hanson, who served in the Marines from 1996 to 2010, told Task & Purpose via Facebook messenger. “So I assumed maybe a volunteer had set their Toys For Tots collection bucket down and maybe he had grab cash out of it.
Ho-ho-ho nope, not on my watch, Hanson must have thought as he took off in pursuit — never mind that he was decked out in his dress blues, down to the slippery soles of his Corfam shoes.
Hanson pursued the alleged shoplifter, 25-year-old William Horn, through traffic and across an intersection. But those leather kicks aren’t made for running — a fact a trio of devil dogs discovered in 2015 — and while pounding the pavement, Hanson slipped.
“I fell on my face when I got over there,” Hanson told NBC. “And then I got up and I yelled at him, 'You're not getting away, I'm going to catch you!'”
With a patrol car headed in Horn’s direction, and Hanson closing in along with a fellow Marine vet, Alisia Dunning, the thief slowed his roll. Who knows: Maybe he was familiar with other stories about Marines who pursued would-be thieves. Or he was just weighed down by the $91 in random electronics equipment he swiped from Walmart.
Related: These Marines In Their Dress Blues Chased Down 3 Suspected Thieves »
“He realized he couldn't get away, and at that point he slowed down and stopped and said, 'I give up, I'm sorry,'” Hanson told NBC. “He got down, and I just waited there until the Plano Police Department came over.”
In the pursuit, Hanson tore his uniform and lost his cover… but a Facebook fundraiser launched to replace his uniform items raised more than $500 in just a few days. Hanson, embarrassed by the attention, told Task & Purpose that the extra funds would be donated back to Toys for Tots.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” Dunning told NBC. “It's our duty to take care of those that are in need. Even though Walmart is not necessarily a person, no one deserves to be stolen from.”
Update: The gunnery sergeant has weighed in on T&P;'s Facebook page with some interesting new details.