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Carjacking, purse snatching might be linked, cops say

November 10, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police are investigating a carjacking Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of the Martinsburg Mall, with a woman saying her car was stolen at gunpoint, according to police.

Police believe the same man suspected in the carjacking stole a purse from the Food Lion grocery store in Inwood, W.Va., police said.

The carjacking happened at around 12:40 p.m. in the mall's parking lot. A 25-year-old Martinsburg woman, whom police did not identify, told investigators that a black man approached her as she got into her car, according to a press release from the Martinsburg Police Department.

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The man pulled out a gun and told the woman to hand over her car keys, purse and jewelry, police said. After she gave him the items, the man left in the car and was last seen driving south through the mall's parking lot toward Foxcroft Avenue, police said.

The woman was shaken, but not physically injured, police said.

The car, a rental from Enterprise with a Virginia license plate, was a silver 2006 Chevrolet. A few hours after the carjacking, deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department found the car abandoned behind Tire Wholesale Distributors on Lawn Street, off U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster said Sheriff Randy Smith received a call from someone who had seen the car.

It was seized by police after it was confirmed to be the car involved in the carjacking.

Lemaster said a K-9 was called to the scene to try to pick up the man's scent. Nobody had been taken into custody, police said.

The man, who was described as young, was wearing black or dark-colored clothes and a white scarf that partially covered his face, police said.

West Virginia State Police troopers said the purse snatching occurred as a woman was walking away from her parked vehicle and was approached from behind by a man who grabbed her pocketbook. The woman told police the man pulled on her pocketbook two times before getting it away from the woman.

The man then ran to a silver vehicle and fled the parking lot, police said in a news release. The woman told police the vehicle had a Virginia registration number of JFV-6922 or JVP-6922.

The woman described the man as slender and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. She said he was wearing a white mask, police said.

Trooper 1st Class J.M. Walker was able to identify additional information linking the purse snatching to the carjacking at the Martinsburg Mall, according to the release.

Anyone with information may call the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100.

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