The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 17, 2013

Drive-by purse snatching at Wal-Mart is investigated by sheriff’s deputies

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The latest wrinkle in thievery, drive-by purse-snatching, came to Ashtabula Township early this week, according to Ashtabula County sheriff’s deputies.

Early Monday afternoon, a 55-year-old Ashtabula woman told deputies a man leaned out the window of the minivan he was driving and grabbed her purse from the shopping cart she was unloading in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store. The victim had her back to the vehicle as she was placing groceries into her vehicle. When the cart moved slightly, she looked up and saw her purse being pulled into the vehicle, according to a report. The woman was not hurt, deputies said.

A witness to the theft, a man sitting in a vehicle waiting for his wife, told deputies the minivan circled the lot several times before the driver took the purse. The vehicle then fled at a high rate of speed out of the lot, nearly striking parked vehicles, the witness said.

The driver was described as a thin, white man in his 20s, possibly with red hair and facial hair, deputies said. In the passenger seat was a thin woman in her 20s with long, dark hair, according to a report.

Saybrook Township road workers found the purse a few hours later along Sanborn Road near Route 84, deputies said. Missing was cash and a debit card, according to a report.

Footage from the store’s surveillance cameras helped deputies identify the van as stolen from Mentor a few days earlier.