Price City Det. Susan Hyde cautions all citizens to keep their purse attached to their body by the straps, even when shopping with a grocery basket as recent thefts have increased dramatically in the area.
Working in conjunction with the East Carbon Police Department, Price city law enforcement officials made two arrests this weekend in a purse snatching case that managed to encompass four stores and victims in just over 30 minutes.
According to Carbon County Jail officials, on Feb. 7, Loretta Herrera, 37, of East Carbon and Donald James Montoya, 22, East Carbon were booked on four counts of theft in conjunction with the Feb. 6 incidents.
Price City Det. Susan Hyde reported that on Feb. 6 calls began to pour into dispatch concerning purse thefts beginning at the Walmart on State Road 55.
"Suspects at the various scenes reported that the female would distract the victim while her male accomplice would steal the individual's purse, she said. "We had calls coming in from all over the area."
Although Hyde was not positive about the order in which the crimes took place, she did say that they came into dispatch from Walmart, Smith's, Albertson's and K-Mart.
"During the incident at Albertsons, the victim realized what was happening and was able to get her purse back from the assailants," explained the Price city detective. "Even though the individual was able to retrieve the purse we still arrested the pair for the full crime because he had taken possession of the property."
Hyde explained that three of the thefts would be considered misdemeanors, however, the fourth would count as a felony due to the amount of cash and property reported in the purse. According to the law enforcement official, if the property stolen is worth in excess of $1,000 then the crime in elevated to a felony.
Following the crimes, Price officials were able to obtain descriptions and video surveillance of the incidents.
After conferring with other law enforcement agencies, they were able to obtain the identity of the female involved in the case.
The officers then obtained her address and requested that East Carbon Police Officer Shawn Sackett take her into custody for questioning.
"We can always count on great inter-agency cooperation in this county," said Hyde. "The East Carbon PD was very helpful."
Herrera was then questioned at the ECPD by Price officers and reportedly gave up the name of her accomplice and the whereabouts of the stolen merchandise, according to the Price detective.
"Once we had the suspects in custody, most of the victim's property was retained. In fact one of the purses still had some cash remaining in it," said Hyde. "And that purse had all of the credit cards and checkbook still remaining in it. In fact all of the purses contained a minimal amount of cash with the exception of the one."
Hyde noted that due to rising economic instability, these crimes will likely continue and escalate.
She cautioned that all Carbon County residents should be protective of their property at all times and travel as lightly as possible.
Her continued tips for property safety included:
â¢Never leaving a purse or wallet unattended.
â¢Keeping a purse strap attached to ones person always.
â¢Leaving credit cards at home unless their use is required for that days shopping and locking them away at any other time. Additionally, if usage of card has stopped altogether, cut them up.
â¢Keep detailed records of home property.
Hyde said that serial numbers and documentation are the best forms of proof, however, simply taking photos and storing them away from the house can be sufficient notice of the property possessed by a citizen.
"We do not believe that these robberies are linked to the rash that has plagued the county for the last six months but the MO was the same. They were looking mainly for cash," she explained. "Purses and wallets have been the items of choice for some time now but as things get tougher we expect to see home invasions begin to increase. Whatever you can do to secure your home, do it."