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Police investigate purse snatchings

July 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police are urging people to use extra caution to protect their money while shopping following several purse snatchings in the area.

Two of the purse snatchings occurred within about 30 minutes of each other on Sunday afternoon, police said.

The first one occurred at about 5:30 p.m. at the Food Lion supermarket along Apple Harvest Drive when a woman was loading groceries into her car, said Cpl. Ron Gardner of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

As the woman was loading her car, a man ran up behind her, pulled her purse from her and fled, Gardner said.

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A bystander chased the man, who got into a red car and escaped, Gardner said.

Police believe the same person then went to the Wal-Mart at Martinsburg Mall.

While a woman was loading items into her car, the man ran up to her and snatched her purse, which was in a shopping cart, said Sgt. Brian Yost of the Martinsburg Police Department.

The man jumped into a moving red car, possibly a burgundy Chevrolet Beretta, which left the area, Yost said.

Yost said the car must have left the area quickly because police were able to respond immediately because they were investigating the purse snatching at Food Lion, which is a short distance away, Yost said.

It is believed the assailants were taking the license plate off the car during the snatchings then putting it back on later, Yost said. Yost said he believes the tag was removed so witnesses could not get a tag number.

Police said there may have been as many as four purse snatchings in about a week's time.

A purse snatching occurred Saturday in Martinsburg, although Yost said he was not sure where it took place, and another took place at the Kmart along Apple Harvest Drive involving a black car about a week ago, Gardner said.

Yost encouraged people not to leave purses and other valuables unguarded while shopping.

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