Friday, January 18, 2002

Suburban moms' cars easy targets for thieves

Purses reported stolen from parked cars

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Thieves are targeting rushed suburban moms who leave their purses unguarded in unlocked — and in some cases, running — cars while dropping children off at day care, police say.

        Ten cases have been reported in West Chester from Oct. 19 through Jan. 7, police records show. Two of those reported purse-snatch attempts were foiled by locked car doors.

        It's happening in other communities as well: More than 30 cases have been reported recently in Forest Park, Mason and Sharonville, police said Thursday.

        Thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, credit cards, cell phones and cameras have been taken. One woman was robbed of $750 in cash, records show.

        “This is an easy way to get cash,” said Sgt. Matt Brillhart of the West Chester Township Police Department. “Take your purse with you. It only takes 20 seconds for someone to open a car door and get it.”

        Most of the West Chester snatchings occurred at La Petite academies. The Beckett Park Drive location has had seven of them, and the Dimmick Road facility had one. Learning Centers on Smith Road next to La Petite on Beckett Park Drive also has had two purse snatchings.

        “I was surprised this could happen in West Chester,” said Stephanie Holliday, 35, whose purse was stolen Jan. 7 in the parking lot of the La Petite on Beckett Park Drive.

        “It was the last thing on my mind that morning,” Ms. Holliday recalled, “My 4-year-old son was upset, so I left the car running and stayed inside with him five minutes trying to calm him down. When I got back in the car, I didn't notice my purse was missing until I went to get my lip gloss a few minutes later and it was gone.”

        Steps are being taken to prevent more snatchings, said Sgt. Brillhart, who thinks the crimes are the work of a crew.

        Forest Park police staged a stakeout to nab a man allegedly connected with several snatchings there, in West Chester, and Sharonville. Anthony Stallings, 31, of Forest Park, was arrested Oct. 24 by Forest Park Dets. Bill Arns and Patrick Carr, at the Youthland Academy on Pellston Court.

        After seeing Mr. Stallings trying to open a locked car door, they stopped and searched him, police said, adding that they found credit cards belonging to two previous West Chester victims, and items from several Forest Park and Sharonville thefts.

        They also found a notebook with credit card numbers from California to Connecticut, Det. Carr said.

        “When we did our stakeout, we were just amazed at how easy it is to commit these crimes,” the detective said. “These ladies come running up, get out, take their kid in, and it's wide open for whoever wants to steal things. Word has gotten around that this is an easy mark.”

        Mr. Stallings faces a 13-count indictment on seven charges of receiving stolen property, three charges of possession of criminal tools and one charge each of theft and failure to comply with police.

        He is out on a $1,568 bond and is scheduled to appear in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Feb. 19.

        He served seven years in a state prison after a 1992 felonious assault conviction, and also has been convicted of two counts of domestic violence and one count each of assault on a police officer and theft, court records show.

        His brother, Kevin Stallings, 30, is wanted for allegedly having a stolen gas credit card from a purse theft in North College Hill.


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