Local News

Mar 8, 2010 9:29 PM by Ariel Wesler

Police still searching for purse snatcher

A purse snatcher is on the loose tonight after attacking two women last night in Santa Maria.

The first incident happened in the Sears parking lot at the Santa Maria Town Center. The other happened outside of Walmart. The thief only got away with one purse, but he dragged one woman across a parking lot. Investigators believe the same suspect is responsible for both attacks.

It's high on the list of worst nightmares for many women, a stolen purse.

"I always have my purse on my shoulder. I usually put my purse in first if I'm unloading groceries," said Elaine Von Achen, a Santa Maria shopper.

Sunday evening, Santa Maria police say the same man attempted to snatch two of them.

"I don't like any of the parking but I try to walk out with somebody or just quickly," said one Santa Maria resident.

A 68-year-old Guadalupe woman was walking from Sears when a man grabbed her purse. She held on and the suspect knocked her to the ground. When she still wouldn't let go, he dragged her 15 feet across the parking lot. A bystander saw what happened and started yelling. The suspect let go of the purse and ran toward the intersection of Main and Miller.

Just 45 minutes later, another robbery. This time in the Walmart parking lot in Santa Maria. The suspect grabs the purse and gets away.

Do you think you would fight back or just give them your purse?

"That's a hard one. . .You should just let it go, but you're probably never going to see it again either," Von Achen said.

"If I was by myself, I would fight back probably," said another Santa Maria resident.

Police say in most cases, it's safer to give up the purse and not risk serious injury. The woman who was dragged suffered a bruised hip and bump on the back of her head.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his twenties or thirties, approximately 5'7" and 180 pounds, wearing a dark colored striped shirt. He may also be driving a newer red Toyota coupe.

Walmart does have surveillance video of its parking lot, but Santa Maria police have not confirmed whether it's being used in the investigation.

Anyone with more information should contact Crime Stoppers.

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