FW police warn public about purse snatchers

Victims tend to be seniors in grocery store parking lots.

Purse snatching incidents have increased in the Federal Way community in recent weeks, and offenders have been focusing on elderly women in grocery store parking lots.

The Federal Way Police Department sent an alert Oct. 20 that included some community tips.

“With regard specifically to purse snatching, clutch your purse the way a football player carries a football. Hug it to your ribs with one arm, away from the curb or driveway to avoid motorcycle and car drive-by purse snatching grabs. But if a purse-snatcher does grab it, give it up, then yell for help as you run to safety. Do not risk injury by fighting for your purse.”

A local community member who is an elderly woman called The Mirror to share her concern over the incident: “I always go shopping with a couple of girlfriends to stay safe,” she said, and recommended others do the same. She also shared that she parks as close as possible to the store and has requested that a store staff person walks her to her car.

Oct. 19 was a particularly active day for this type of incident. At 9:56 a.m. in the Fred Meyer parking lot on 21st Avenue, a 76-year-old woman was putting her groceries in her vehicle when a suspect approached her and began tugging on her purse. The victim attempted to fight the suspect off, but was assaulted, causing her to fall. She needed medical assistance for the injuries she suffered during the assault.

At 11:20 a.m. on the same day, officers responded to a purse snatching at Winco on Southwest Campus Drive. This victim was 86 years old and her purse was grabbed off of her shoulder on her way into the store with enough force to break the purse.

Other recent incidents are below:

• Oct. 14: As a victim placed groceries in her car, she was approached by two subjects who showed her a small rifle and yelled at her. She was pushed to the ground and her backpack was taken from her.

• Oct. 12: Around 12 p.m. in the parking lot of a grocery store on 21st Avenue Southwest, a woman reported that a car pulled up next to her and a suspect got out and grabbed her purse out of her cart. Total loss is about $12,750 due to the woman’s wedding ring being inside the purse.

• Oct. 9: A suspect in a white Kia Sedan snatched a purse from a victim near the Commons Mall who fell to the ground while trying to hold onto the purse.

• Oct. 8: Two individuals of a juvenile stature pushed down a victim while she was returning her shopping cart around 1:30 p.m. near the 1600 block of Southwest Campus Drive. They then took her purse. In a separate incident reported online the same day, a victim reported that after grocery shopping and placing their purse on the passenger seat of their car, an unknown suspect came from behind and grabbed the purse strap from around the victim’s wrist, then fled in a red car.