Monday, December 11, 2000

Purse snatchings a reminder for shoppers to be vigilant

By Jennifer Mrozowski and William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Recent purse snatchings in a Kenwood Towne Centre parking lot have forced security there to high alert, while a robber Sunday grabbed a woman's purse in a Columbia Township parking lot as she moved her handicapped child from her vehicle to a wheelchair.

        Not exactly the holiday spirit at work.

        At Kenwood, heightened security follows two aggravated robberies that occurred last week outside the Lazarus department store. Mall officials Sunday declined further comment on their security tactics but said they were working closely with Hamilton County sheriff's deputies.

        Neither victim in the Dec. 3 and Friday night purse snatchings at Kenwood was injured. No arrests have been made in either case, deputies said Sunday night.

        Meanwhile, at Wal-Mart in Columbia Township on Sunday, a 29-year-old woman was moving her 4-year-old from her car in the store's Highland Avenue parking lot about 5:40 p.m. when someone opened her right front car door and grabbed her purse, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies said. The woman's wrist was injured when she tried to pull the purse from the robber, deputies said. The thief, wearing a black bubble coat and a black knit cap, was last seen running north through the parking lot.

        Mall officials warn shoppers to take extra precautions during the holiday season:

        • Have your keys in your hand before you leave any building so you don't have to fumble for them at your vehicle.

        • Lock your vehicle at all times and store valuables in the trunk.

        • Remember where your vehicle is parked to avoid wandering in the dark; be observant.

        • Lock the doors as soon as you get in your vehicle.

        • Shop with friends or family.

        Cpl. Bob Stewart, who works for Pinkerton Security at Northgate Mall, offered some additional tips.

        “Don't feel sorry for anybody if they come up to you and say "I lost a child,'” Cpl. Stewart said. “That's security's job. We will help them.”

        Don't let strangers help change a flat tire, he said: The person helping change the tire could have let the air out of it.

        “And don't leave your purse anywhere because it doesn't stick around very long,” Cpl. Stewart added.

        Elaine Price of downtown Cincinnati, who was shopping there Sunday, said she wears her purse slung over her shoulder and hidden under her coat. She doesn't carry more than $100 with her and doesn't carry credit cards.

        “If I buy anything expensive, I would buy it during the daytime when there are more police around,” Ms. Price said.


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