5280 web editor turns into crime-fighting vigilante during DNC

Move over, Batman. Vanessa Martinez is on the prowl.

With all the drunk and oblivious and self-absorbed people around right now, Denver is a pickpocket’s wet dream – that is, unless they have the misfortune of running into Vanessa Martinez, 5280 magazine’s web editor and, as it turns out, possessor of fists of fury.

As the story goes, Martinez, former editor of the Fort Collins alternative newspaper Rocky Mountain Chronicle and other Colorado altweeklies, was enjoying lunch at Osteria Marco in Larimer Square on Monday when a scofflaw made off with her bag – and with it her cash, her credit cards and her ID, which she needed to get into convention events. Ouch.

Martinez called her credit card company and learned the bandit was on a spending spree, having already thrown down her plastic at Virgin Megastore. She headed uptown to Virgin in hopes the store got the thief on surveillance video, but on the way she made a detour down a side street to avoid a protest – and ran right into her pickpocket, clutching his Virgin shopping bag.

The poor guy couldn’t have seen it coming. Biff! Bam! Kapow! Martinez punched him in the face, walloped him with his own shopping bag and tore at his shirt. He pulled out her stolen credit cards in surrender, but that didn’t stop the fury. Martinez’s screams alerted nearby women who chased the guy as he tried to run away, as well as security officers. Soon the pickpocket was in custody, and Martinez had her stuff back.

The moral of the story? Don’t pick a fight with us journos. All that scribblin’ gives us a mean right hook. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner