To Catch A Bib Thief – The Events That Led To Disneyland Runner Being Detained After Running With Stolen Bib

A detailed walk through of the events that led to a runner being identified, detained and banned after she was found to have run with a stolen bib at Disneyland

This will be a long article. There have been many rumors and misinformation regarding the circumstances surrounding the events leading up to the Disneyland runner being apprehended after Saturday’s Disneyland 10k. This article will detail the process in identifying the runner in possession of the stolen bib, and the process that culminated in her being detained and banned from Disney properties.

THURSDAY

Thursday 12:13 PM

Melissa is the founder of Team Muscle Makers. From the website:

Our mission is to raise awareness for Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (UCMD) is a rare form of muscular dystrophy with only a few hundred documented cases world wide.
As a team, it is our goal to raise money for the research for new treatments and, one day, a cure for UCMD. To do this we run! We’re making muscles, one mile at a time.

I’ve learned that Melissa is well known in the Run Disney community. Her charity raises money through the Disney races. Melissa has relationships throughout Run Disney.

I shared Melissa’s post on my page. Many others shared her post as well. The posts and discussion of this apparent theft made it’s way into the popular Disney Group runDisneyRun and NTRD, both pages are dedicated to Disney and Disney racing. RunDisneyRun was instrumental in identifying the culprit in a similar instance of bib stealing that took place during Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend. With nearly 30,000 members, if a photo emerges of a Disney runner, odds are someone will recognize them. As it turns out, both the victim of that theft and the person caught running with the bib were members of RDR

On Thursday night, I reached out to Kelly Delaney, who I knew through #NTRD  (and who serves as a moderator for the Marathon Investigation Facebook page) to assist with searching for photos of the culprit once the pictures were published on the Disney site.

There was discussion and some theories that the runner identified in the Tinkerbell bib theft may be the same runner that was responsible for this bib theft. The consensus was that after her public outing resulting from the past incident, that there is no way she would be involved in the theft of a Disney bib again.

FRIDAY

1:02 PM  – Kelly sent me this photo with the comment “It kind of looks like her” – referring to Patty, the runner that received the stolen bib from the Tinkerbell 10k earlier this year.

I agreed, and with a quick comparison with her Peter Pan photo from Tinkerbell 10k I felt fairly certain that these were photos of the same runner.

Throughout this process Kelly was in contact with another group member, Caitlin Oishi. Caitlin was able to provide the hi-res photos. After comparing these photos I was 100% certain that these were both photos of Patty. This meant Patty received the stolen bibs for both the Tinkerbell 10k and the Disneyland 5k.

 

I quickly contacted owners and admins of both RDR and #NTRD to make them aware and also to ask their opinions on my conclusion that these were the same runner. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone else in these groups made this discovery and I wanted to give the owners of the groups a heads up because I expected they would want to stay on top of any threads on the topic.

I was going back and forth trying to decide whether to post this information immediately or to hold off until the next morning. Patty registered legitimately for the Double Dare (The 10k and 1/2 Marathons on Saturday/Sunday). Getting photos of her from Saturday would provide further confirmation on the identity of the runner with Melissa’s bib.

Kelly was an advocate of holding off. I agreed, but I felt that there was a strong likelihood of this information getting out through social media beforehand. I did come to the realization that releasing this information could lead to potentially dozens (or hundreds) of runners attempting to spot Patty on the course. I had my article written and ready to post Friday afternoon, but decided to hold off until the start of the 10k unless the information leaked out publicly beforehand.

Upon identifying the runner as Patty, I contacted Melissa. She relayed this information to Run Disney. She notified me that they were going to attempt to catch Patty at the finish line of the race on Saturday. This served as one more reason to hold off on publishing the information. I did not want to do anything that would have compromised these plans.

One of the RDR admins is Caitlin Oishi. Kelly had been in contact with Caitlin from the start. I reached out to Caitlin earlier in the day. Caitlin kept a close eye on the RDR group. She later posted that there were a couple of members that identified Patty as well. But Caitlin successfully buried those posts and turned off comments in order to keep that information from spreading. Her top priority at this point was avoiding this information getting out so that Run Disney security could do their job.

 

SATURDAY

 

Caitlin was running the 10k . She messaged me from the start when Patty’s live tracking showed she crossed the start lin. Patty had a corral A bib but it appeared she started in B or C. (It does appear that she got corral A status by using another runner’s result as her proof of time). I informed Caitlin that there were plans to detain Patty at the finish and that she should hang around to capture video. Caitlin was way ahead of me. She informed me that herself and 2 other runners “were on finish line duty”.

At 8:12 AM (Eastern) Kaitlin messaged me that she was starting her run.

By 8:28 AM she messaged me that her friend Brian,  spotted Patty  and was tailing her. Shortly after that their other friend, Jen met up with Brian and they continued to run the rest of the race with Patty in their sight.

Patty at the 10k – Jen in the background

 

I think it is critical to point out that at no point did Brian or Jen confront Patty. Brian, Jen, and Caitlin were the only runners that I am aware of that were actively looking for Patty on the course. Caitlin, Kelly and the handful of others that knew Patty was the runner with the stolen bib from the 5k did a fantastic job making sure that the masses were not aware. It was top priority both to not tip off Patty so that Run Disney could pull her at the end of the race and to avoid a mob of people looking for and confronting Patty on the course.

It is rather remarkable that Brian was able to spot Patty during the race. I was aware of an Instagram account believed to be Patty’s. On Thursday there was a photo of two costumes. We believed that Patty would be wearing one of these two outfits at the 10k.

By Friday morning that Instagram account went private. As far as I am aware no one contacted Patty. But I am sure she saw comments on social media from people looking for the thief of the 5k bib. Likely this led to a change of plans and she instead ran with the Disneyland race shirt.

Kelly and I were following the Patty’s splits on the live tracking. Charlene Ragsdale was also at the finish area. Charlene was hanging around in the finish area and was reporting that security was strong and that they were actively looking for Patty. Shortly after the live tracking indicated that Patty finished, I received a text from Melissa saying “They got her”.

Shortly after that I was receiving a flurry of messages, and Jen contacted me for the first time, sending me her video and this photo:

 

Late Saturday night, Caitlin sent an edited video which included footage from both Jen and Brian:

 

You can see in the video, that Patty was detained. It was later reported that Patty was escorted to her car and issued a citation for improper use of a handicap placard (San Diego News 10).

Jen told me that they did not need to point Patty out to security. They spotted her on their own. Jen and Brian never came in direct contact with Patty. They simply observed her. They also backed away when the police detained and handcuffed Patty.

I learned from Melissa that Patty had claimed to have purchased the stolen bib online. I personally believe that is unlikely. The bibs that she wore in these two separate races, 5 months apart were stolen in the exact same manner. Her involvement in the first instance was very public. To me, the only feasible way that she bought this bib online would be if she bought bibs from both races from the same individual. I find it unlikely that she would purchase a bib from the same person after the bib was determined to be stolen at Tinkerbell in May.

 

Summary and And Aftermath

In the initial article I wrote in May, I showed where there were multiple instances of Patty running in races that she was not registered for. It is not known whether she copied bibs or if those bibs were purchased or stolen. It is clear that she has a history of obtaining bibs that she does not own.

A few items worth pointing out. Different outlets picked up the story and some posts on social media contained wrong information as the story was developing. Below are the facts.

  • Patty has not yet been charged with a crime relating to the stolen bibs. As reported by San Diego News 10, “an investigation into the woman’s potential involvement in reports of racing bib thefts is currently ongoing”.  Charges could still be filed.
  • Patty has been banned from future Run Disney races and she also had been banned from all Disney properties.
  • Patty was not arrested – she was detained and escorted to her car.
  • Patty claimed that she purchased the stolen bib online.
  • Despite early reports, there was never any question regarding the validity of the bib she wore on Saturday. Only the 5k bib was stolen.
  • It is not believed that they confiscated her bib (which also would have been good for Sunday’s Half marathon). Security was on the lookout for her at The Half Marathon, but there is nothing to indicate that she ran or attempted to run the race.

There has been speculation as to whether Patty has an accomplice. It is Run Disney’s policy to require a photo ID to pick up your bib. At both races someone (Patty or someone else) was able to pick up these bibs without showing ID (discounting the remote possibility that fake IDs was obtained just to pick up race bibs).

Through the efforts of everyone mentioned in the article, I strongly believe this entire situation was handled professionally and any calls for harrassment or release of personal information have been quickly dealt with. Run Disney did a fantastic job in this instance for taking this seriously and acting appropriately when given clear evidence of bib theft.

No, this was not the crime of the century. But it goes beyond photocopying a bib in order to bandit a race. This took some planning. By getting this story out there and showing that races are beginning to take these things very seriously, it is my hope that others may come forward, and that potential bib thieves will think twice if they know there is a real possibility they could be detained and that charges may be filed.
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Bib Thief
28 Comments on this post.
  • Anya
    5 September 2017 at 11:02 am

    Burn on her. I seriously cannot believe the hubris of patty to repeat identity theft at this race. What kind of low morals human does this? Race the races you can afford, to commit a felony to race more, is not only illegal but possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Like you seriously need to get a grip on what a society is and how to navigate as a decent human being, miss patty.

    • Justin
      7 September 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Right on Anya, as always.

  • Anya
    5 September 2017 at 11:05 am

    Plus she looks old enough to know better, My friends and I are probably half her age and even us, the millennial generation of “snowflakes and entitlement” according to society, would never dream of doing something so dubious and scummy. She’s an awful person, I feel confident in that assertation.

  • Scott William
    5 September 2017 at 11:24 am

    In the included video, you can see Patty reach out and take the finisher’s medal, and then put it around her neck, even though she was already under the full escort of Security staff.

    Then Security verbally orders her to take the medal off, and they take it away from her.

    No shame. No shame at all. People like that must be STOPPED.

    Derek, Jen, Brian, RDR, and all others who assisted, thank you for your diligent and careful work.

    • Danielle
      5 September 2017 at 11:27 am

      It’s ironic she had to give the 10k medal back, since she earned that one herself!

      • Scott William
        5 September 2017 at 12:12 pm

        As the article said, Patty used a handicapped parking hang tag that was not hers to park in a handicapped parking spot, which is a serious infraction and grounds for disqualification on its own.

        I know people with conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis who NEED their hang tag for the “bad days” when attacks come suddenly, and walking a long distance is very difficult (but presumably they can still drive). Yet on the “good days”, my friends get verbally harassed by strangers who confront them and yell at them that they don’t “look disabled”.

        People like Patty who are willing to use hang tags fraudulently, just to save a bit of walking, are not helping.

      • Mark
        5 September 2017 at 12:28 pm

        And further irony that she parked in a handicap spot so she wouldn’t have to walk so far…… TO A RACE!

  • Danielle
    5 September 2017 at 11:26 am

    Great article. I followed the Tink drama “live” and am still dumbfounded that she did it again. I would find it hard to believe a claim that she bought them from the same person (to your feasibility comment) since the name on the Tink bib was different than the on on her 5k bib. I suppose there could be even more explanation around that, but I feel it would start to venture off into the realm of fiction, even if it were true.

    Also, if I legitimately bought a Disney bib from someone (and I would question how you could NOT know that’s illegal at this point), I would be making a much bigger deal of my innocence, and throwing the seller under the bus.

  • ShowMetheMoney
    5 September 2017 at 11:58 am

    Don’t get me wrong her stealing these bibs is wrong, but I find her misusing the handicap placard the worst!! Somebody who really needs that handicap parking space can’t get it because this scumbag lied, cheated, or stole this handicap placard!!

    In the earlier story she ran other races that she did not register for! Those races need to be on the lookout for her! The Surf City race is part of a three race series where runners who finish all three races get a challenge medal. Long Beach is the next race.

  • ShowMetheMoney
    5 September 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Disney should have taken her 10K bib away! She could have sold the bib to an unsuspecting person! I don’t put anything past this scumbag cheater!

  • Erica
    5 September 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks to everyone that had a hand in uncovering and filling this story. There is a reason there are rules, not everyone may agree with those rules and you don’t have to participate in an event whose rules you don’t agree with. Good job Derek (and team).

  • ShowMetheMoney
    5 September 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Why is her result for the 10K still up?

    Bib Age Div Place Gender Place 5k Split Clock Time Net Tim
    20308 45 309 3253 46:20 1:38:16 1:37:43

    • Andrew Nerney
      5 September 2017 at 10:28 pm

      Because she legitimately paid for and ran the 10K. She stole a bib for the 5K.

      • ShowMetheMoney
        6 September 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Then Disney should have allowed her to keep her 10K medal. The video shows the medal being taken away from her. It is possible they gave the 10K medal back to her. But, she should be DQ’d for the 10K.

        • Summer
          6 September 2017 at 8:47 pm

          I think they took the medal because she was being arrested and it is a potential weapon. I would think they have it back to her after she was released.

  • Patrick
    5 September 2017 at 4:02 pm

    So has she just been lucky not to have picked someone who already had picked up their bib or does she know these people whose bibs she is stealing?

    • joeconn4
      7 September 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Patrick – I think that where Derek has the premise that perhaps it’s a bit of an inside job – that Patty may have an accomplice working packet pickup who gets her a bib that is close in age and matches gender.

  • Lardog
    5 September 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Derek, has Patty reached out to you or vice-versa with any evidence that she got the bib from someone online?

  • Nan
    5 September 2017 at 5:30 pm

    The Disney 5ks are $80, not a small amount of money, but steep for an average 5k. Yet she could afford the Double Dare. This is just so stupid on her part – stealing a bib, an identity, and then doing so again. She can always register for other races elsewhere, but being banned from the Disney properties forever – that is a true purgatory!!

  • JR
    5 September 2017 at 10:14 pm

    I have a co-worker that prints picture of bobs she finds online and runs races including Disney ones. I know for a face that she and a friend ran the Star Wars lightside race that way. I wish they would get caught.

    • Andrew Nerney
      8 September 2017 at 12:27 am

      Next time she does it let Derek know so that he can bust her!

  • Nick
    5 September 2017 at 11:01 pm

    I think the most telling part of the video is that she doesn’t seem all that surprised to suddenly be surrounded by cops and security, she obviously knew the jig was up at that point and hopefully this puts an end to her fraudulent ways

  • Big Wick
    6 September 2017 at 11:23 am

    There are only two ways to steal a bib: either alone, or with an “inside” person.

    If she acted alone, then that get REALLY creepy, and would seem to require a fair amount of cyber-stalking to identify the mark… which would be MOST disturbing.

    She claimed to have bought it on-line. That possibility would exist if someone “inside” as a packet pick-up facilitator pre-sold a bib on-line, and then identified someone whose bib they could lift; but that doesn’t seem likely. More likely is she knew someone working the table who could very early in the day (as was the case with Melissa’s original bib) find a bib of same gender and age to provide to her.

    I hope Disney takes this seriously enough now (and, given they apprehended Patty at the finish of the 10K, they seem to have done so) to get to the bottom of the bib transfer.

    Good job by Derek and the RDR “videographers”.

    • Urban B
      6 September 2017 at 1:14 pm

      I dunno… I think an insider would simply wait until the end of the day and grab (or hand over) a DNS. She would never get caught.

    • ShowMetheMoney
      6 September 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Cyberstalking? Hardly! It’s easy to find somebody’s info just by posting on FB running groups. Some people have their birthday public on their FB page. Even just the month and day is more than enough info.

      Personally, I don’t think Disney did enough. They should have pressed charges to find out how she stole so many bibs. I also hope Disney notifies other races warning about her! Though other race directors could look at this site.

  • Bryan in Canada
    15 September 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Well done. If she actually went up and impersonated a runner to get their bib, that they did not pay for, then it is theft.

    I personally don’t agree with race policies that don’t allow you to legally sell your bib once you buy it. Perhaps not on the dark web but think that these high profile races really need to create a legal way (bib transfer process) for runners. I know that many races do, but those that don’t really don’t promote a sense of customer service.

    I really enjoy reading about your hard work, nice to see a passion in running. As I wait until Monday to try and register for the Boston Marathon, with a time just 4 mins and 15 seconds faster that the qualifying time, it is nice to know that you are protecting the integrity of the race and giving me a real shot to race my first Boston.

    With Gratitude…

    Bryan

  • Kathy Reynolds
    18 September 2017 at 8:08 am

    All of the reasons I run would be eliminated by wearing a stolen bib. I couldn’t enjoy myself if I was looking over my shoulder, I couldn’t be competitive, I couldn’t hang with my friends, I couldn’t post a picture, I wouldn’t have my times recorded, I would be stealing and even worse usually from a charity! Boooooo!

  • Erwin Gee
    18 September 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Now I know what happened. I happen to be an avid runDisney runner and ran in this year’s DLHM 5K. I also provide Race Support for the runDisney events at Disneyland. I happened to be working the DLHM Expo 5K Packet Pickup as the lunch break reliever when Melissa came to pickup her Race Bib from the 5K 40351-40700 pickup window.
    I asked Melissa for her Photo ID and it matched Melissa and the name on the Race Waiver. I went to retrieve Melissa’s Race Bib but it wasn’t there and neither was her Gear Bag Sticker. When Melissa found her name in the Bib Pickup Signature Log she said someone already signed in space by her name. We did not know what happened, so I called the Supervisor who double-checked the box with the Race Bibs to see if it might have been misplaced.
    The Supervisor was also unable to locate Melissa’s Race Bib. Melissa went with the him to the Runner Relations Desk to figure out what happened. That was all I knew until I came across this story. Wow, it’s amazing what some people are willing to do to run in a runDisney event!

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