Some of the older kids eventually left, leaving a group of 4 or 5 smaller kids. I glanced over and saw the smallest kid with my backpack on his shoulder, trying to casually walk out of the park. I immediately shouted in my Shakespeare/kung fu instructor voice, "Drop it now, son." The kid dropped it and took off running. The rest of his group started moving more quickly to the fence. I ran over towards them and they took off too. I quickly checked my bag to see if anything was missing (there wasn't) and then ran after them in case they had gotten anyone else's things.
They had about a 50 yard headstart, but here's the thing - I'm pretty fast. I may be incredibly out of shape and broken down these days, but you give me an injection of adrenaline and I'm frakkin' Carl Lewis. At the very least, I'm faster than a bunch of 10-year olds.
So after about 100 yards I caught up to them and shouted again in my best Dune voice, "You can keep running or you can be able to walk the rest of your lives." Yes, I yell bad action dialogue when I'm chasing people. However, it worked, and they all stopped running, thus preventing me from treating them like the little brothers I never had.
They quickly offered to empty their pockets and bags, but I told them we were going to walk back to the field to see if anyone else was missing anything. One kid was sucking on his asthma inhaler, for love of Pete - ridiculous. I felt like I had foiled a robbery attempt by the Bad News Bears.
A couple of other soccer players caught up to us and I asked if anything else was missing and they told me no, so at that point I let the kids go.
Mistake number 2. I should have still walked them back to the field and taken their information and photos, as well as made them do push-ups and sit in horse stance for the rest of our game.
The problem is, the older kids who had left earlier swiped two of the other players' bags, so it might have helped to track down the older kids if we had the younger ones. Still, the cops nabbed two of them who be able to ID the older punks.
It all was just so sad - the kid couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old. Heart breaking, really. Plus, if they had at least been older, then I could have taken out the recent theft of my computer on them.