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Professor chases alleged thief through campus buildings

By Liz Dailey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 24, 1999
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A UA chemistry professor yesterday chased a suspected thief through university buildings and helped detain the man until police could arrest him for reportedly stealing a textbook.

Michael Brown, 50, said he pursued a man he allegedly found searching his desk in the Old Chemistry building, 1306 E. University Blvd., because of a hunch and "a lot of built up resentment toward thieves."

University of Arizona Police arrested Anh Tuan N. Haynh, 26, on suspicion of theft after they found a textbook belonging to the chemistry professor inside his bag, police reports stated.

Brown left his office unlocked and went to check the mail at 12:15 p.m. and returned to find Haynh "standing over his desk shuffling through books," reports stated.

"I saw this person in the hall," said Brown, a UA professor for 12 years. "He was well-dressed and nice looking. He didn't look like a normal UA student."

Brown said Haynh fit the physical description of a man linked with alleged thefts spotted in the Chemistry building previously.

"He was very calm and cool," Brown said. "He said he was waiting for me because he wanted to take my class next semester and needed a syllabus."

The professor noticed one of his textbooks on the floor and asked the man if it was "typical for him to look through professors' books."

Brown said he told Haynh to wait while he made a phone call in an effort to stall him.

As the professor was about to make the call, Haynh said he needed to use the bathroom and ran from the building.

When the chase began, Haynh dropped his backpack after he left the Chemistry building. Brown picked up the bag and carried it as he pursued the man into the Biological Sciences East building, 1330 E. South Campus Drive.

"I told people to stop him, but they just stared," Brown said.

As Brown and Haynh reached the second floor, an assistant chemistry professor trapped the man inside a bathroom and watched him until police arrived.

Police searched Haynh's backpack and found the textbook inside, which the man said he got from a friend.

Officers found the chemistry professor's name stamped inside the book, reports stated.

"It was satisfying to catch this guy," Brown said.

Haynh, a Virginia resident, was taken to Pima County Jail and booked. He was released later that day.

UAPD Cmdr. Brian Seastone said detectives plan to follow up on the case.

"It shows good communication between people," Seastone said. "His (Brown's) assumptions were right on."