'Just give it back to me': Jewelry shop employee chases down suspected ring thief in D.C.

Shop employee chases down suspected jewelry thief in D.C. (Photo: Victoria Sanchez, WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) — A jewelry shop employee took the law into her own hands after two men allegedly stole a $4,300 ring Monday night.

Mia Gemma artisan jewelry shop in Northwest Washington is filled with beautiful pieces of hand-crafted earrings, necklaces and bracelets. One item was too tempting for two alleged thieves after one man swiped an engagement ring.

Owner Irene Barbieri describes employee Odaybea Morrow as friendly, petite, soft-spoken woman.

“They must have thought that we were just an easy mark and didn’t know what kind of person worked here,” Barbieri said with a laugh.

Don’t let looks fool you.

“I think she’s a super hero!” said customer Anne Marie Frere.

Monday night, the two men entered the store just after closing and said they needed a gift. Morrow let them in. As she was showing some earrings to one of the men, the other can be seen in surveillance video taking a ring from a case.

Minutes later they left the store without buying anything but did not leave empty handed. Morrow took off after them.

“I don’t recommend any one doing this. Please don’t do it!” she said.

As Morrow rounded the corner she yelled at passersby for help. Only one stranger stopped.

“I couldn’t let her, one person, go after two men and not step in,” said Patty Pierce.

Pierce had just left work and was headed for the Metro when she heard Morrow’s plea. She took out her cell phone to get video of the men and call 911.

Morrow caught up with the alleged thieves and grabbed the older man by his jacket.

“I said, ‘Just give it back to me!’ And he finally, I felt something in my hand. He said, ‘It’s in your hand. It’s in your hand. Now let me go.’ He did. He had put the ring back in my hand. And I said to myself, ‘No, I’m not going to let him go,’” she explained.

As Morrow was trying to keep the man from leaving, she said a group of kids aged 10 to 16 started hassling her to leave the alleged thief alone. She said one of the boys punched her in the arm and other called out racial slurs.

The man tried to get in a cab but the driver stopped and locked the doors until police arrived. They arrested Charles Mobley, 58, of Northeast Washington for first degree theft.

“Do not mess with Mia Gemma. We’ll get you!” said Barbieri.

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