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Police officers regularly urge people to be aware of their surroundings.

This week, an alleged would-be thief failed to heed that good advice, charging documents against him indicate.

But the York City Police detective just feet away from him didn't. The detective was able to catch the man red-handed and return a stolen purse to its owner, police said.

Detective Jeremy Mayer was in a police cruiser, driving in the first block of North Beaver Street about 5:10 p.m. Monday, June 17, when he spotted a commotion at the outdoor seating area of White Rose Bar & Grill involving Azeem Donovan Washington, according to York City Police.

"I noticed that he had grabbed something from a table on the Beaver St. seating area," Mayer wrote in charging documents. "I then heard a female say that he stole (her) purse. I immediately pursued the defendant. ..."

Mayer caught up with Washington near the corner of South Pershing and West Clarke avenues and arrested him, according to charging documents, which state that Washington was still in possession of the stolen purse.

The purse, which held about $175 cash and was itself valued at about $250, was returned to its owner, police said.

The woman who owns the purse told officers she saw Washington ride past a few times, and that the last time he rode by her, he grabbed her purse and fled without saying anything, according to charging documents.

'Quick to act': Officer Derek Hartman, spokesman for York City Police, said the department is proud of Mayer, who was hired in 2001.

"He was quick to act, and he did a great job," Hartman said.

"Some people worry about the downtown and the safety there," Hartman said. "But these kinds of incidents are generally isolated, and we're normally able to act quickly and make an arrest."

Washington, 27, of the 300 block of South Pershing Avenue, is free on $10,000 unsecured bail, meaning he didn't have to post any cash to remain free but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings.

He is charged with misdemeanor theft and is facing a preliminary hearing before District Judge Joel Toluba, court records state.

He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, June 18. It's unclear whether he has retained an attorney.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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