Orna Siegel and Paula Kincheloe helped police catch a child molester. Carl Pabst and Kenneth Moses chased down a hit-and-run driver. And Rafael Gutierrez, Ramiro Rocha and Wilfredo Hernandez didn't stop chasing three burglary suspects even when one drew a gun and threatened to kill them.
They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things, Deputy Police Chief Ron Frankle said at an awards ceremony Thursday to honor 13 San Fernando Valley-area residents who helped Los Angeles police fight crime in 1989.
The awards were handed out by the Police Activity League Supporters, or PALS, a nonprofit group that runs crime prevention programs for young people.
Harlene Settles, police service representative for the Devonshire Division, said recipients were "citizen heroes."
But those at the awards ceremony at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys said they didn't think their impromptu crime fighting was anything out of the ordinary.
Siegel, 41, was watching a movie when she noticed the young boy next to her was being fondled by a man in the next seat. She told the theater manager, who did nothing. After the movie, she followed the man and the child to a nearby shop, where she enlisted the help of Kincheloe, 34.
Together, the two women reported the molestation to police and took down the license plate of the man. The man, a registered sex offender, was arrested.
"As a mother, I felt that's what I had to do," Siegel said. "I just felt like I was doing the right thing. . . . If it can happen in the fifth row of a movie theater, it can happen anywhere."
"I felt like I really didn't do anything," Kincheloe said.
Moses, 45, who chased a hit-and-run driver for nine blocks and returned him to the scene of the accident, said he really didn't think about it. "Something had to be done." Pabst, who was not at the ceremony, also chased the driver.
Gutierrez, Rocha and Hernandez chased burglary suspects who had apparently broken into an apartment in the complex where the three men work. They continued to tail the suspects even after one of them drew a gun and said, "Leave us alone or I'll kill you."
Police later arrested one of the suspects at a shopping mall.
Michael Powert, another recipient, helped police apprehend a robbery suspect.
Todd Groten and John Larinto jotted down information that helped catch a car thief.
Paul Wachter tailed a couple of purse snatchers, keeping an eye on them until police arrived to arrest them.
Wilfredo Hernandez and Apolinar Olague chased two car burglars and held one until police arrived.
PALS also honored two organizations--the Citizens Emergency Mobile Patrol and HAM Watch--for their assistance to police during 1989. The Citizens Patrol often assists police in search and rescue missions. HAM Watch is a volunteer group of ham radio operators who help police with surveillance operations.