Tulsa Police looking for some purse snatchers caught on tape


Thursday, April 10th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


A warning to women about an increase of purse snatchings now that the weather is warmer.

The News on 6 has a Tulsa purse snatching that was caught on tape that provides an inside look at how these criminals operate. Plus, it may be a chance for you to solve the case. News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright has this exclusive story.

The security staff at the 71st Street Kohl’s thought a truck circling the parking lot, looked suspicious, especially since its license tag was covered, so, they kept an eye on it. And it's a good thing, because they were patrolling for a victim. The passenger spotted one target, but couldn't get to her before she made it to her car.

Then, they saw a woman with a child. Like sharks hunting prey, they sneak up behind her, snatch her purse, hop into the bed of the truck and take off. Melaney, victim, "At the moment, you're so stunned you don't think anything, what to do, where to go. Your instinct is to run after them, but, I've got my grandbaby, so I can't do that." Melaney scooped up her granddaughter and raced inside.

At the same time, a man in the parking lot chased after the purse-snatchers. James Bellerue, Good Samaritan: "They cut through a parking lot on Garnett and were going onto 51 when they pulled over and he comes up and gives me the purse." They even apologized and not one thing was missing from the purse when James returned it to Melaney at the store. Melaney, victim: "I said, do you realize the danger you could've been in, he said, no big deal, he was such a quiet man."

The quality of the videotape provides a rare glimpse of how purse-snatchers operate, which helps women know what to do.

Before you ever get out of the car, look all around you. If you see someone in the parking lot, wait until they go in or until there are plenty of people around before going inside.

The purse-snatchers in the gold Chevy truck got away and Tulsa Police hope someone will know who they are and turn them in. Melaney too, "It goes beyond the moment to where you think you're not safe."

If you know who the robbers are, you can call Crimestoppers at 596-COPS. You don't have to give your name and if your tip leads to an arrest, the Citizens Crime Commission will pay you up to $2,000.