A burglar picked the wrong car to break into on Saturday morning -- the one belonging to East Palo Alto Boxing Club owner Johnnie Gray.
Gray was in his home resting in front of the television set at 3:30 a.m. when he heard a suspicious sound and went outside to investigate, he said.
All was silent.
"Then I hear something again. He got greedy and he came back. I looked outside and he's in my truck," Gray said.
The alleged thief took off running and Gray went back inside and put on his clothes.
"I said to myself, 'I'm gonna catch this cat,'" he said.
Gray's truck was littered with broken glass, so he took his other car and went looking for the thief. Rounding the corner onto the next street, he spotted the man.
Gray passed up the man and planned to pull into a driveway and to make it look like he was coming home, he said. Then he realized the man might use whatever he had to break the truck window as a weapon, so he returned home to retrieve a baseball bat, he said.
"I went back. Now I'm on the hunt. I go around the corner. There's nobody," he said, so he parked his car around the block and walked slowly back.
"I'm creeping like a cat. I got real low, and then I see him. This guy is still up to the same stuff. He's looking in all of these cars and he's going into someone's backyard. He's just out there like a raccoon -- some ol' raccoon," he said.
When the man reached the car where Gray was hiding, the boxer waited. Then the alleged thief reached the side of the car where Gray was crouched.
"I popped up and he took off like a jackrabbit," said Gray, who was able to bat the man once on the arm and then on the side as he ran away.
"Then I threw him to the ground. I gave him a light conk on the top of the head," he said.
The man quieted down, but then he started getting agitated again, Gray said. He tried to flag down a passing car. Residents, alerted to the commotion, called police.
"There were two white officers and the guy was white. I am black. This picture doesn't look good. Usually, it's the other way around," he said.
Gray dropped the bat when police commanded. But he noted they did not cuff the alleged burglar. Instead, the officer took out his notepad.
Police searched the man's belongings and found bags of change and a summons with the suspect's name on it, and that's when they realized that Gray had caught a man they had been seeking in several burglaries.
The man was taken to the hospital for examination. East Palo Alto police could not be immediately reached for comment.