Houston police warn of purse snatchers this holiday season


by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News and KHOU.com staff


Posted on December 16, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 6:31 PM

HOUSTON – Police say that shoppers should be on the lookout because crimes like purse snatching are up this time of year.

For many women it is like an extension of their arm, and the purse is an easy target.

“Pretty easy because I don’t even like close it properly. I just leave it out there so I should be more careful,” said Marcella Garza, while walking through the parking lot of a shopping center.

The purse may be an afterthought for some, but it is a magnet to criminals.

“Now that you say that, it is on my mind now, but it doesn’t cross my mind before,” Garza said.

In November, a purse snatching was caught on security cameras at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The crime happened on Nov. 1 at about 4:30 p.m. in the 10400 block of the North Freeway.

A woman said she was walking to her vehicle with her purse attached to a strap on a shopping cart when a man tried to grab the purse from the cart. The purse remained attached to the cart and the victim and the man struggled over the purse until the strap snapped, investigators said.

The woman chased the man on foot as he fled with her purse. As he ran from the parking lot he dropped a handgun as he jumped into a black Monte Carlo.

That was back in November, but the holiday season is peak timing for purse snatchers.

“A lot of these crimes during the holiday season are very much preventable,” HPD Assistant Chief George Buenik said.

Natalia Bezdetnova knows she should be more aware but she does take some precautions.

“I always close it at least and zip it up, but it has crossed my mind that someone could take it off my shoulder,” she said.

Most women know they should pay more attention.

“I just kind of glance around to see. I don’t think there is anything else I can do,” she said.

That’s the first step but look no further than that security video to see that some lessons are only learned the hard way.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS.