Greece Police investigating series of purse snatchings

Posted at: 12/12/2012 7:06 AM
Updated at: 12/12/2012 5:57 PM
By: Ray Levato

Greece Police report a rash of purse snatchings in the last three weeks and they say the suspect is targeting older women.

Greece Police say the suspect, a man in his 20's, has been targeting the purses of older women in grocery store parking lots and also when they return home. One was even in a church parking lot. Police say six purses have been taken since Thanksgiving. The latest was Monday at the Ridgemont Wegmans.

If someone tried to snatch Sue Garrett's purse, she jokes he would have to snatch her too because she wears it with the strap around her neck and tucked under her arm.

Sue Garrett said, “When I'm out grocery shopping, I carry it like this primarily so it doesn't fall off my shoulder but it's for security as well. If someone snatches it, they're going to snatch me too.  But I also noticed in the store here that there are some people who leave their purses in the top part of the shopping cart, and I think that's really dangerous.”

Debbie Harrington had not heard about the Greece purse snatcher until News10NBC told her.

Debbie Harrington said, “Not that I carry that much on me. Usually my credit cards, still if someone got hold of my credit or debit cards, that could cause problems with them stealing your identity and everything else.”

Greece police say four purses have been snatched in the parking lots of Aldi's, Wegmans and Tops.  And two have been snatched in the parking lots of apartment complexes on Kingsbury Drive off Fetzner Road and Falmouth Street off of Bonesteel Street. In one case, a woman was pushed to the ground.
Greece Police Capt. Pat Phelan says in most of the cases, the purses were vulnerable.

Capt. Patrick Phelan, Greece Police Department, said, “They've been set down in shopping carts, on a car, and on one occasion it was set down on a bench while they were unloading groceries.”

Donna Thomas said, “This is the first I've heard about it and I don't take any precautions.”
Ray Levato said, “None?”
Thomas said, “I've never heard of this.”
Levato said, “Will you now, with your purse?”
Thomas said, “Probably not.”

Capt. Phelan said, “A general safety tip you should always be aware of your surroundings when you're coming from or going to your car. Have an escape plan in mind and be aware of the people that are around you.”

Thomas said, “I haven't thought about it and I haven't heard about it, so thank you for giving me the information about it.”

Wegmans released a statement Wednesday saying, “We have a number of things in place to keep our stores and parking lots safe. One of the biggest deterrents is that our stores are always well-staffed. But there are also cameras constantly monitoring our parking lots and our stores and we have security, both uniformed and undercover, on site at various points throughout the day. Even with all of this in place, we encourage our customers to always be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.”

Police say they have conflicting car descriptions and police don't think it would be productive to put those descriptions out there at this time.