But one woman in Hull turned the stereotype on its head when she tried to help police apprehend two suspected shoplifters.
The heroic pensioner, described by police as a small woman in her 70s or early 80s, tried to stop the duo by jumping out and grabbing them.
Although she did not apprehend, the police in pursuit were able to catch the pair shortly afterwards.
Now the officers involved in Sunday’s chase want to trace her so they can give their thanks in person.
PC Donna Wagner, from Policing Patrol, said: “This was a lovely and very brave thing that the lady did. Unfortunately we were not able to thank her at the time and by the time we had apprehended the couple she had left the area.
“Knowing that people like her and the wider public are behind us makes a real difference. We would love to locate her so we can thank her properly and she can be commended for her heroics.”
Police were called at around 1.35pm on Sunday following reports that items had been stolen from a shop on Kingston Retail Park, Hull.
Two officers on foot spotted the couple on cycles and began chasing them under the underpass onto Sweet Dews Grove.
They arrested a 29-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man shortly after the elderly lady tried to intervene.
The woman has been charged with shoplifting and released on bail until a court hearing next month. The man was released without charge.
PC Donna Wagner added: “I would encourage her or anyone who knows her identity to get in touch by calling 101 and quoting log 275 of 09/10/16.”