OKC Women Fall Victim To 'Purse-Snatcher' Lacie Lowry

Monday, November 3rd 2014, 10:55 pm
By: News 9

It's one of the most common property crimes in the metro - purse snatching - whether from a car or a grocery cart.

News 9 teamed up with Homeland for a public service announcement to show that many of us may be setting ourselves up as easy targets. We took hidden cameras into a busy Homeland grocery store to show you how quickly this crime can happen.

"It can be a very easy crime to commit," said Officer James Hamm, with the Edmond Police Department. "You're grocery shopping, distracted by whatever items you're looking for."

And that's when purse snatchers strike if you leave it in the cart.

"People will follow you around, they go into the stores, they work in teams," Hamm said. "They have plans, they know what they're looking for and they find that person who is distracted by their kids, who is distracted by their shopping or both."

Luckily for the women I targeted, this is just an experiment. I swooped in, grabbed their purses from the cart and mixed right back in with everybody else just like real thieves do, and the victims never know until it's too late.

"You are focused on one thing and that's to get in, get the stuff you need and get out and you don't even realize it's gone until you go up to pay," said Hamm.

Police said if somebody comes up and you feel like they are trying to distract you, be suspicious because they could be working with a partner. Earlier this year, surveillance video from a metro grocery store caught a team in the act. A woman comes up, pretending to know an unsuspecting victim and while they chat, an accomplice comes up and steals the elderly victim's purse.

5/12/2014 Related Story: Sibling Thieves Face More Charges Across Metro

"I see people all the time shopping myself that, they just walk off and leave their cart with their purse and stuff sitting several feet away from them, paying no attention whatsoever to what's going on," Hamm said.

In less than 90 minutes, we stole five purses and returned all of them.

Lacie: "I walked right past you and stole your purse, can you believe that?"

Glenda: "Yes, because I wasn't paying a bit of attention."

Lacie: "I just stole you purse."

Alison: "Oh my gosh!"

Lacie: "And you didn't realize it?"

Alison: "I didn't realize it."

And yet another shopper, Holly, didn't notice either.

"I was just thinking when I went over to the bananas, I was like, 'I shouldn't have left that,'" she said.

"Although it's a comfort zone to be in a store and shopping, unfortunately there are those people out there who that's the place they go to commit crime," Hamm said. "Do whatever you can to make it difficult for a criminal to target you."

"I ought to have it on my shoulder," Alison said.

Good advice, Hamm said, because if you're not an easy target, they'll probably pass right by you.

Police passed along these quick tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Close your purse, don't leave it open and don't leave your cell phone on top of it either.
  • You can use the child safety straps to tie your purse down to the shopping cart.
  • Carry it on your shoulder at all times.