Polk County Sheriff's and Winter Haven Police detectives are seeking information about a strong-armed robbery trend that began on Wednesday, October 6th and ended Sunday, October 10th, 2010, during which two suspects are snatching purses from elderly women in public places.
The first incident occurred around 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. The 84-year-old female victim was pushing her great-great grandson in a baby stroller from the Publix parking lot back to her car which was parked at the First Mortgage Bank parking lot located at 606 6th Street SE in Winter Haven, when a blue 4-door sedan (possibly a Ford Taurus) pulled up alongside her. An unknown white male suspect exited the passenger side of the car and approached the victim. The suspect then attempted to snatch the victim’s purse from the handle of the stroller. The victim grabbed the purse and tried to pull it away from the suspect, but the suspect continued to fight with the victim until he was able to get the purse out of her grasp, breaking one of the elderly victim’s fingers in the process. The suspect then got back into the vehicle, and fled the scene.
The second and third incidents occurred on Thursday, October 7th and Sunday, October 10th in the Macy’s parking lot located at 700 3rd Street SW in Winter Haven, and are being investigated by the Winter Haven Police Department. In both of these incidents, elderly women had their purses snatched from them by white male suspects in the parking lot, who then fled on foot. In one case, the elderly victim was dragged approximately 10 feet, causing abrasions to her back, arms, and hands.
The fourth and most recent incident occurred around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 10, 2010, in the Eagle Ridge Mall parking lot, located at 451 Eagle Ridge Drive in Lake Wales. The elderly victim had her hand on the door to enter the mall when an unknown white male suspect ran up to her and grabbed her purse from her arm. The suspects in all four cases are believed to be the same suspects.
Some of the victims’ stolen credit cards were used at local stores shortly after their purses were stolen by the suspects. Their photos can be seen here. One suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male, approximately 5’10” tall, 190 lbs., in his 30s, clean-shaven, wearing a blue work shirt, shorts, and tan work boots. The other suspect is a white male, approximately 5’10” tall, 180 lbs., wearing a blue T-shirt, jeans, and black tennis shoes, and has a full-sleeve tattoo on his left arm.
If anyone has information about this incident, or recognizes either of these suspects, they are urged to contact PCSO Detective Roger Martin at 863.297.1169 or 1.800.226.0344, or WHPD Detective Mitch Meadows at 863.291.5311.