04/08/2010 03:08 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Grocery Store Employee Catches Purse Snatcher, Gets Fired

Talk about corporate inflexibility. File this under "And this is the thanks I get?"

A produce manager at a Randalls grocery store in Texas was just back from lunch last week when he heard a female customer screaming at the deli counter. Someone had grabbed her purse and headed out the door.

The manager immediately followed in hot pursuit, finally catching up to the perp a half-mile away. The purse and its contents were retrieved.

It took one day for the company's "loss prevention unit" to show up and suspend our hero without pay. He was ultimately fired over the incident. His wife and two sons hope he finds work soon.

Randalls is a Houston-based chain, owned by the California giant Safeway. A company flack explained that employees are trained not to pursue suspects in criminal situations. "The policy exists for the safety of our employees, customers and others who may be seriously injured in a chase," she recited with robotic iciness. Rules are rules.

This is Nurse Ratched territory. Sure, it's always better to let cops handle robbers. There is still something to be said, however, for customer service and helping out a fellow human being. This wasn't about stolen merchandise, it was a customer's personal possessions; her keys, credit cards, children's photos, etc.

Instead of losing his job, the 36-year old U.S. Army veteran should be named "Employee of the Month" for selflessness. In addition, the incident provides a "teachable moment" for co-workers. Remind them of the policy. Emphasize the inherent dangers of taking the law into one's own hand.

But don't fire the guy, especially not in this economy. It's mean-spirited.