Stolen phone recovered, suspect arrested thanks to witnesses who got involved

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CLEVELAND -- A group of citizens who witnessed a cell phone robbery outside of the West Side Market are being credited with helping the police quickly make an arrest.

An Ohio City man was speaking on his iPhone while standing on the sidewalk just before 11 a.m. on Friday.

That's when 21-year-old Dejour Crawford allegedly rode by on his bike and swiped the man's phone.

The suspect fled on his bike, riding over the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

Alex Forcht, a 17-year-old St. Ignatius senior, happened to be driving back to school from Mass at St. John's Cathedral downtown when he witnesses the robbery.

Forcht followed the suspect in his vehicle, while the victim chased him on foot.

A third witness, an unidentified male, also chased the suspect on his bike.

As the suspect tried to escape, Forcht saw him discard the stolen phone. Forcht then recovered the iPhone and turned it over to its owner and Cleveland Police.

Cleveland Detective David Santiago was off-duty, providing security at the West Side Market, when a third Good Samaritan, an unidentified woman, alerted him to the robbery.

Det. Santiago commandeered a motorized, city-owned waste collection cart, quickly gathering witness descriptions and broadcasting the information over police radios.

Moments later, K-9 Officer Paul Fronckowiak spotted the suspect on Woodland Ave. near E.30 Street. The suspect was held until the victim could positively identify him.

Crawford was then placed under arrest and was formally charged with robbery on Saturday morning.

Second District Police Commander Thomas Stacho posted the following message on the Cleveland Police Department's Facebook page:

"This is a wonderful example of the good that can come out of the collaboration between dedicated police officers and an engaged citizenry. Thank you to young Mr. Forcht who, without regard to his own safety, pursued the robbery suspect and ultimately recovered the victim's stolen property. Thank you to the unidentified female who immediately alerted Detective Santiago to the robbery and to the unidentified male who pursued the suspect on his bicycle. Thank you to all involved for helping make Ohio City safer!"

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