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Members of Penn's Annenberg (Lunchtime) Running Group spotted and chased down a thief out of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall last month.

Credit: Sophia Swidey

Members of Penn's Annenberg (Lunchtime) Running Group chased down a thief on campus last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Feb. 6.

The running club, which meets three times a week, assembled at the plaza on 36th and Locust Walk Jan. 9 when a man barreled out of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall and ran straight past them, followed by a second man who shouted for help and said his laptop and cell phone had been stolen. The members of the running club quickly took off after the suspect and eventually caught the thief.

Running club founder Kyle Cassidy, a digital design specialist in the Annenberg School for Communication, told the Inquirer that it took the group only 30 seconds to catch up to the suspect. Cassidy said their pursuit of the thief led them through an active construction site, where he asked a construction worker to dial 911. The group then lost track of the suspect, but Penn police arrived shortly afterwards.

“If this running club had been put on this Earth for anything, it was that particular moment right there,” Cassidy told the Inquirer. “Running is typically a useless sport where you turn fat cells into heat, but occasionally it can be useful, and here was one of those opportunities.”

Police said the suspect, Talib Adams, was taken into custody and charged with burglary, criminal trespass, theft, and receiving stolen property. The victim’s laptop and cellphone were recovered. Cassidy, who tore a leg muscle during the chase, was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he said he was greeted with a handshake by every police officer present. 

The Annenberg (Lunchtime) Running Club was founded in early 2016 by Cassidy and Matthew O’Donnell, an assistant professor in the Annenberg School.

The group is known for its "Ideas in Motion" initiative, which features monthly lectures where the speaker and audience run together. Club advertisements described this as “a TED Talk, while running.”

Past lecture topics have included how the brain works while running, ways ideas spread through human networks, and the extraction of rare minerals necessary to mine bitcoin.