Sheriff: Purse thief connected to six other thefts

Resident says she warns others
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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The man accused of snatching purses from inside shopping carts at Auburn grocery stores is connected to six similar thefts in the county, according to law enforcement. The Placer Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that video has revealed that the man accused of taking purses from shoppers at the Raley’s, Bel Air, Safeway and Save Mart stores Dec. 30 is also believed to be responsible for swiping bags from carts at a Bel Air Store in Roseville Nov. 14 and a Safeway store in Rocklin Dec. 28. “Deputies began investigating a recent series of purse thefts that occurred while shoppers were selecting merchandise from grocery store shelves,” according to Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. “The victims had placed their purses in shopping carts and the male suspect is seen on video walking by and taking the purses while the victim’s back is turned from the cart. Video was reviewed and detectives have determined that the same suspect is responsible for six of the incidents.” Auburn resident Donna McCloskey said she isn’t surprised to hear of the thefts because many, including herself, feel safe in Auburn. However, McCloskey, who moved to Auburn in 2005 after living in New Orleans for years, said she’s always aware of her surroundings. “I’m from a crime-ridden city,” McCloskey said. “My husband says, ‘you’re so paranoid’ but I’m always afraid of crime. Just because you live in a good place doesn’t mean bad things can’t happen to you.” While living in New Orleans, McCloskey said she’s had her purse snatched three times. On one occasion she was holding her bag on a sidewalk in the middle of the day in New Orleans when three men surrounded her. “They knocked me to the ground and almost broke my jaw,” McCloskey said. “They got my purse, they yanked it off my arm and the one who took my purse was trying to pull my rings off my finger. This was at one in the afternoon so you can understand why I’m paranoid.” McCloskey said even though she feels very safe living and shopping in Auburn, she still approached female shoppers before to caution them to look after their belongings and hold on to their purses. “They would laugh and said it’s not such a big deal,” McCloskey said. “So I wasn’t really surprised (to hear of the purse snatchings). I knew it was a matter of time. It’s an opportunistic crime.” The suspect detectives are looking for is described as a black male in his 20’s, with a shaved head. He is 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 10 inches, with a muscular build. Anyone with information on the identity of this suspect is asked to call Detective Jim Hudson at (530) 889-7855.