Purse snatchings throughout area could come back to one person

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by 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on April 19, 2010 at 11:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 22 at 10:41 AM

YORK COUNTY -- York-Poquoson Sheriff's deputies believe Jeffrey Collett had a pretty packed schedule this weekend, stealing purses from at least three people at different locations.

While deputies look at the 41-year-old for those crimes, police throughout Hampton Roads are considering the possibility Collett is responsible for many more, including one that took place at Harris Teeter at the Oceanfront Monday morning.

The victim popped into the grocery store for ingredients to make soup. When she came out of the supermarket, she tells 13News she noticed someone parked beside her, thinking nothing of it.

"He stopped his car," she recalls. "He got out of his vehicle, and I turned around, and he kind of shoved me and grabbed my purse right out of the cart."

After she started screaming, some people in the area tried to catch the person. One of those people gave Virginia Beach police officers a plate number which they say came back to Collett's SUV.

Master Police Officer Adam Bernstein says Collett already was wanted in Virginia Beach for petit larceny for stealing a woman’s purse from a grocery cart on November 18, 2009 at the Food Lion on Holland Road. A capias for contempt was issued in December, he added.

"Don't think you're safe," warns the customer at Harris Teeter. "I think women are a target, and just be careful."

Hours after the purse snatching at the Oceanfront, Chesapeake police say they had one at Kmart on South Military Highway. The person responsible seems to match Collett's description, and was driving the same type of SUV. Officer Dorienne Boykin tells 13News the victim was looking at plants when someone come up and pushed her, taking her purse.

Last week, police in Suffolk say someone grabbed the handbag of a customer at Walmart off College Drive. Surveillance video shows the crime as the person snatches it, hopping in a dark SUV, speeding off as the victim tries to follow him.

Deputy First Class Mike Russell with York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office explains the crimes deputies believe Collett committed this past weekend began Friday with a purse snatching at Shady Banks Shopping Center along Hampton Highway in Tabb. They say Collett dragged the victim 10-15 feet as he drove off.

Saturday, Collett allegedly grabbed a handbag at Walmart in the northern part of the county. Sunday, he supposedly stole someone's purse at Kroger off Victory Boulevard.

Collett is wanted for questioning in similar-style larcenies in Newport News and Hampton.

Russell says Collett's SUV is a 2001 black Chevy Tahoe with Virginia tags XWD 8754.

If you know anything that can help authorities find Collett, call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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