MANSFIELD, Ohio- A 68-year-old woman was putting groceries in the back of her SUV at the Walmart on Possum Run Road in Mansfield when a car pulled up and the driver, who had four small children inside, asked for directions to nearby I-71.
The driver claimed that she did not understand the simple directions and got out of the car. Eventually, the victim turned her back, and that's when the woman sneaked behind her and grabbed her purse from the SUV, jumped back in her car and started to back away.
The victim tried to hang onto the open door, and the purse snatcher backed up and pulled away. The victim was thrown to the ground. Witnesses called 911 and the victim was rushed to the hospital. Investigators said she was in too much pain to even give a statement at the time.
It turned out the car the suspect was driving had been reported stolen in Stark County. Mansfield police have now placed a high priority on stopping the suspect.
"When somebody preys on our elderly citizens, they're a special kind of criminal that obviously need to be plucked from the community and off the streets," said Assistant Chief Keith Porch.
After the suspect left Walmart, she showed up at a home in neighboring Ashland County, where authorities said she told a 74-year-old woman she had been involved in a car crash, and that her four kids were injured. When the victim went to check on the kids, the suspect attacked her, took her and she and the children then fled in the victim's car.
The purse snatcher continued her crime spree when she dumped that car in Columbus and police said she stole another vehicle, all with the four kids, including an infant, in tow. Investigators said her m.o. is part of a troubling trend in the criminal underworld.
"You can tell that these particular offenders are transient so I think they're more brazen, where they feel that they can steal, carjack a car, steal a car and then go onto another community or another county in the state and continue to commit crimes throughout the state of Ohio."