His target: An older woman, unsuspecting, walking eastbound on the north sidewalk of at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon.
The westbound thief tried to rip her handbag off her shoulder, but she held on, taking a tumble and banging her head, according to police and witnesses.
"I was out here sweeping the front of our business and I noticed people screaming," said one worker in a nearby business.
The thief got the purse and took off running in the street westbound, he said.
But the robber quickly had company.
One motorist saw the attack, stopped his car in the middle of the street, jumped out and gave chase.
Two other guys also joined the pursuit, police said.
"I think he dropped the bag at that point," said the store worker, who did not want to be identified.
A least one of our heroes kept the chase up, down Cary, a turn down a side street and up an alley.
"They didn't confront the suspect," said Richmond police Capt. Emmett Williams, "but they got him nervous enough where he threw down the purse and kept running."
The robber did get away with the victim's cell phone, he said.
Kevin LaCivita, owner and chef at the Pomegranate across the street, just missed the action. But he brought the victim inside his cool, calm restaurant until police arrived.
"I felt horrible for her," LaCivita said. "She had a knot on the head, little scrapes and bruises."
He, like others we spoke with, was disgusted that a young man would prey on an older woman, hurting her.
The good citizens, job done, took off themselves.
Williams said the RPD would love to hear from them, partly to get their descriptions of the suspect, but also to "give them a hearty thank you."
Police describe the suspect as a light-skinned black male in his late 20s with a shaved or bald head, 5'7" tall, 150 pounds, wearing a white shirt and tan pants.
Anyone with information can talk to the detective on the case at 804-646-1068.