The striking sequence of events was captured on video.
A thief jumped out of a car Sunday as a woman packed shopping items into the trunk of her vehicle in a parking lot outside the Hmong Village in St. Paul. The man approached the woman from behind and tried to snatch her purse away, throwing her to the ground.
The thief then got back into a vehicle with his accomplice and started to drive away, unaware that the woman’s arm had gotten stuck in her purse strap. They dragged her for nearly 75 feet before they hit the brakes and she broke free, St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said.
The woman came away from the incident with some “pretty significant” bumps, bruises and scrapes, Linders said, but she was not seriously injured. The suspects fled with her purse, which contained money she had saved for the holidays.
“The video is quite shocking, and unfortunately it’s not the only case that we’ve seen like this,” Linders said.
St. Paul police shared surveillance video of the incident Thursday as they asked the public for help in finding a group of men they suspect are responsible for at least 20 robberies in the past month — including the one on Sunday and two more that happened Wednesday night.
The group has used the same tactics in the rash of robberies, Linders said. The thieves target women who are 40 or older, alone, and carrying a purse or handbag. They pull up behind the women in a stolen car before jumping out and ripping their purses away.
In cases where the women fought back, Linders said, the thieves punched them or threatened them with a gun.
The male suspects in every case are described as 15 to 30 years old, wearing hooded sweatshirts or hats to hide their faces.
Police ask anyone with information to call 651-266-5650. They suggest that women who shop alone keep their purses hidden.
“We are increasing patrols in areas where people are shopping and they’re going to be very visible. People can be vigilant by being aware of their surroundings, trying to always have someone else with them,” Linders said.
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