"I had to do something," the shopper-turned-crime stopper, Monique Lawless, said of the encounter that was captured on video. "It just infuriated me."
Lawless, a 42-year-old single mother of two sons, was standing in the checkout line at a Walmart in Alvin, Texas, just before noon Sunday when, she said, she saw three men enter the store and then quickly leave with beer.
She told a sales clerk that the men had left the store without paying for the beer.
"They knew they could walk into store and get the Bud Light and just walk out," Lawless said. "They were so smug, it just enraged me."
The clerk alerted a Walmart greeter at the store's entrance who was able to briefly detain two of the suspects before they broke loose and were able to join the third man in their getaway car.
That is when the 5-foot-2, 125-pound Lawless sprung into action, flinging down her purse in the checkout line and running out of the store after the three men.
Lawless said her original plan was to write down the alleged thieves' license plate number and rely on other Walmart shoppers to help her.
"They were stunned," Lawless said in explaining how her plan was diverted when no other customers stepped in to help. "They all just got on their cell phones to call 911."
Tired of Arrogance, Ready to Take Action
When she saw the three men having difficulty opening their locked Chevrolet Camaro to make their getaway, Lawless said, she knew that would be her only chance to jump in and stop them.
Video surveillance of the store's parking lot shows Lawless launching herself directly onto the hood of the suspects' getaway car and pounding on the car's windshield.
"They were getting in the vehicle and leaving and I was thinking if I could just get on the car that would stop them," Lawless said. "I figured a sane person wouldn't drive off with someone on top of their car."
The driver started the car anyway, causing Lawless to slide down its roof. She held onto the driver's door handle still, and was dragged along the tarmac before letting go.
"They were laughing at me the whole time inside the car," Lawless said. "They couldn't care less."
The three alleged thieves were eventually stopped at another Walmart store in nearby Pearland, Texas, after an hour-long chase.
Twins Sylvester Andre Thompson and Durlentren Sylvester Thompson, 21, and their brother, Sylvester Primitivo Thompson, 19, were arrested and charged with felony evading arrest and aggravated robbery, according to ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.
Country Needs to 'Stand Up'
Lawless suffered a bruised nose and two black eyes during the incident.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Lawless said today of her post-crime-stopping recovery. "It's all healing up and getting better."
Video of Lawless's dramatic efforts to thwart the thieves spread so quickly that her own sons learned about their mom's actions from a friend who saw the video first.
"He sent my son a text message that said, 'Your mom is crazy. I just saw her jumping on a car,'" Lawless said.
But her sons were not surprised, given that Lawless is known to always take action, calling 911 or stopping to help, if she sees a car accident or someone in need.
"My kids are not surprised," Lawless said. "They know mom is going to do something, that mom is going to help."
And Lawless said that despite her bumps and bruises, she hopes her actions at her local Walmart inspire others to stand up as well.
"Our country needs to stand up and do something," she said. "We need to be able to walk through our Walmart without worrying that someone is going to take something from us.
"We need to say, 'We're not going to take this anymore,'" she added.