Don’t mess with McChete. Photo by Ryan Burger

Last week, thieves were making the rounds in the upper-middle class neighborhood where the Fort Worth Weekly is headquartered. Several of our employees have had our cars broken into over the years. Reporter Jeff Prince described having a tire stolen off his truck in our parking lot (“Don’t Tread on Me,” June 5). One of our employee’s cars was parked in the same lot. After work, he walked to his vehicle, eager to go home, relax, and eat dinner but discovered someone had stolen a backpack, tools, a phone charger, and other items from inside. The angry employee, armed with a machete (!), cruised around the neighborhood looking for suspects. It didn’t take him long to find one. Within minutes, McChete, let’s call him, noticed a poorly dressed guy in his 40s walking slowly past a parked car, peering in a window, and checking the door handle.

“I literally witnessed him get in a truck and take something out of it,” McChete said.

McChete called a coworker at the Weekly for backup. The Big Mac rushed to the scene. The thief, however, spotted McChete tailing him and took off running. McChete chased him on foot through a nearby apartment waving his massive knife while the thief screamed for help. Once cornered, the thief played innocent.

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“I said, ‘Where’s my shit?’ ” McChete recalled. “He said, ‘I ain’t got nothing, man.’ I said, ‘What’s this?’ ”

A bag stuffed with Lululemon workout clothes was hidden inside the man’s coat. By this time, Big Mac had showed up and was standing beside McChete. 

“I’m just hungry, man,” the thief said.

“We’re all hungry,” The Big Mac replied tersely.

“We all work for food,” McChete said. “When you steal, you’re stealing food from the mouths of our children.”

McChete let the man go without calling police.

“I didn’t want anybody to get shot,” the vigilante said.

McChete walked back to his car and decided to drive around the neighborhood once more before heading home.

“Not 30 seconds later, I see three kids – 15 or 16 years old – walking by,” he said. “I drive by real slow and see that one of them is wearing my backpack! I whipped over the car, jumped out with the machete, and said, ‘Drop the fucking backpack!’ ”

The thief did as told.

McChete waved his weapon in their faces.

“I know what each one of you looks like now,” he said. “If you ever come back to this neighborhood, I’ll cut you. You are lucky it’s me that caught you. I guarantee you, everyone who lives in this neighborhood has a gun and would probably shoot you.”

He let the three boys go but followed from a distance and saw them head into the same nearby apartment complex.

“I hate thieves,” McChete said.

Why not call the cops on the kids?

“Do we want to put them in the system for stealing a backpack that doesn’t have shit in it?”

But you hate thieves.

“I hate thieves, but they’re just going to go in the system and come out a better thief,” McChete said. “It’s a mark on their record forever. I just put the fear of God in them. Besides, who’s to say the cops wouldn’t show up, one of the kids might take off running, he’d get shot, and I’d have that on my conscience.”

Do you think the thieves will learn anything by being let off easy?

“Those kids probably will,” he said. “That older guy looked like a crackhead.”