Lawmaker, 61, nabs wallet-theft suspect

Published May 27, 2007

WASHINGTON - In a single day, a congressman from New Jersey voted in the House, was robbed of his wallet and, Washington, D.C. police say, chased and caught a suspect.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., appeared disinclined to reap publicity from the latter two events, which occurred Thursday night in Georgetown. In a brief statement from his office, he praised police and said nothing about his role in the arrest of the suspect. He was uninjured.

Frelinghuysen, 61, was walking in the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue when a group of men came up behind him, officers said. One asked if he wanted to buy candy, and Frelinghuysen said that he did not, police said.

Frelinghuysen's wallet was taken. A man fled west on R Street, and the congressman pursued. Patrolling officers spotted the chase, but before they could intervene, Frelinghuysen caught a man, Lt. Josiah Eaves said. Eaves said an 18-year-old Washington man was arrested and charged with robbery.

Authorities said the wallet was recovered.

John L. Warden Jr., who lives on Dent Place NW, where the chase ended, said Frelinghuysen, a Vietnam veteran, "looked fine. He seemed very collected."

Police discourage chasing of robbers, but former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, a longtime acquaintance, called it "so Rodney." She said, "He's not about to let somebody get away with something he thinks is not on the up-and-up."

Frelinghuysen is in his seventh term as the representative for New Jersey's 11th Congressional District.