A man stole the iPad belonging to Daniel L. Wenger, a 50-year-old Pentagon employee, last week as Wenger was riding a Blue Line train home from work.
Video from Metro shows how Wenger chased the suspect.
Some commentators have jokingly described Wenger’s experience as only-in-a-Jason-Bourne movie, because the story took on added twists.
Wenger, a program analyst at the Pentagon, left work about noon April 13 and boarded a Blue Line train going toward Franconia. He was heading home and then to his job as an auxiliary police officer in Fairfax County.
Wenger settled into a window seat in the middle of the car and placed his iPad on his lap to scan news headlines. That’s when a man reached from behind him and swiped the tablet, he said.
The thief jumped off the train at the Reagan National Airport stop. Just as quickly, the doors closed, leaving Wenger staring at him from inside.
But hold on!
The doors on the rail car reopened for a few seconds, allowing Wenger to race out and chase the man, who was headed to another rail car. Wenger swung his left arm at the suspect, hitting him in the back as he was halfway on the train.
Wenger’s arm also hit the doors just as they shut, causing him to drop to his knees in pain.
“Those doors don’t give up,” Wenger said.
But wait — the doors reopened again!
The thief jumped from the train, and Wenger stuck out a leg to try to trip him but didn’t succeed.
The thief ran down the platform and then jumped down and then up onto the opposite platform — crossing the electrified third rail, according to three witnesses’ police statements.
Just before the suspect boarded a Yellow Line train to Fort Totten, another passenger grabbed the iPad, according to Metro Transit Police.
The rider yelled out to Wenger, “What’s on your iPad screen saver?”
When Wenger said it was a photo of his wife and two children, the rider said, “I got it!”
The passenger tossed the iPad across the tracks to another rider, who put it in Wenger’s bag.
Meanwhile, a Metro Transit Police officer who was at National Airport received a detailed description of the suspect from the victim and broadcast it to other officers. Officers at L’Enfant Plaza were starting to look for anyone matching the description when they were approached by an off-duty D.C. police officer who said he had seen an altercation on a train involving a likely suspect, according to Deputy Police Chief Ron Pavlik.
Police arrested Kayvon C. Stoddard, 18, of Landover and charged him with grand larceny. He was also charged as a fugitive because of five open warrants, Metro Transit Police said. Stoddard was later extradited to Arlington County.
On Tuesday, Wenger chatted about how he is recovering after surgery last week that put screws and plates in his arm.
One thing he clearly wanted corrected for the Jason Bourne fans out there: His iPad was his personally. It was not a military-issued iPad.
He said his friends have described the stitches that go from his shoulder to his elbow as “looking like a zipper.” He said he’s still in pain, but the doctor told him that the surgery “went really well.”
“She said the arm was like a puzzle and she had to put everything together,” Wenger said. He goes back in early May for a checkup.
Does he regret chasing the suspect?
No, he said.
“When the door is open and the guy is there, what am I supposed to say? ‘Hey, can I get my iPad back?’
“It was instinct, reaction,” he said of chasing the iPad thief. “I’m a law enforcement officer. We train for this stuff. The guy was right there.”
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