Police warn of rash of purse snatchings in the Greater Waterbury area

New Haven

ANSONIA, Conn. (WTNH) — Melissa Smith has seen the pain of the problem firsthand — a rash of recent purse thefts at gas stations in the Naugatuck Valley. She helped one woman whose purse was stolen Monday at a gas station she co-owns on Great Hill Road in Ansonia.

“I actually called the paramedics because I was very nervous and worried about her because it’s a violation,” she said.

Just this morning, the town of Seymour posted this on Facebook:

“The vehicle just stolen from Henny Penny, with gas pump hose still attached. Last night a pocketbook was removed from a car while the owner was pumping gas.”

Lt. Patrick Lynch with the Ansonia Police Department is urging women — as well as men — to be extra alert as to their surroundings because on Sunday, a man’s vehicle was stolen while he went inside a gas station and left his car running. Someone in a van that had just pulled up got out, opened the man’s door, and took off with his vehicle.

“There are people out there who look for every opportunity,” he said. “Who see someone that’s distracted and go in and take things from their car.”

“They’re targeting gas stations and shopping parking lots. They’ll drive around the lots looking for people who are inattentive,” he said. “They’ll take their purse from a shopping carriage as people are loading their groceries.”

Lt. Lynch says Naugatuck Valley police departments are working together to try and solve these crimes and catch whoever’s doing this. They’re scouring over surveillance video and sharing intel.

So far, no arrests but Lt. Lynch says they did recover a stolen car in Bridgeport and in that car police say they found purses that belong to people in Oxford, Naugatuck, Waterbury and Ansonia. They urge women not to leave purses in the passenger seat when they get out of the car. They also urge all of us to lock our car doors — no matter how far away we walk away from our vehicles or for how long.

“You need to be aware of your surroundings,” said Lt. Lynch.

He also adds always lock your doors and if you see anything suspicious around parking lots of gas stations or stores — contact police immediately. Things to look out for might be cars that constantly circle the parking areas or that remain in the same area for a long period of time with people inside.

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