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Published: Monday, 9/23/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Purse snatchers thwarted in attempt by witnesses

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Police are looking for two women who allegedly were involved in trying to make off with a 93-year-old woman’s purse in West Toledo.

Half of the duo approached the woman, Sophie Kufel, from behind as the victim was getting into a car parked in a Kroger parking lot, 4533 Monroe St., just after 9 p.m. Sunday.

A woman grabbed the purse, but Ms. Kufel wouldn't let go and fell to the ground clutching her bag. The victim was dragged a short distance across the parking lot, according to a Toledo police report about the incident.

Witnesses intervened, coming at the suspect and grabbing the woman's green hooded sweatshirt, pulling it off along with the white T-shirt she was wearing underneath it.

The woman, who did not manage to take Ms. Kufel's purse, jumped into a waiting getaway vehicle and fled.

Police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said Ms. Kufel suffered “minor injuries.” A reporter's attempt to reach the victim at home was unsuccessful.

Sergeant Heffernan said going after a purse snatcher is different in every situation.

“Certainly you don't want to lose your life over a piece of property, but the natural instinct when your purse is coming off your shoulder is to hang on to it,” the sergeant said.

The woman who attempted to snatch the satchel is described as white, 30 to 40 years old, about 5 feet, 4 inches, 140 pounds, with blonde hair.

The getaway driver is described as white, 25 to 30 years old, with brown hair.

In Monroe County, authorities arrested a teenaged purse snatcher Sunday evening after getting a major assist from a few witnesses.

A 15-year-old boy asked a 56-year-old woman for the time and directions to a nearby apartment complex at about 4 p.m. in a store parking lot in the 15000 block of Telegraph Road in Monroe Township.

The woman was pointing the teen in the right direction when the youth grabbed her purse from the woman’s shopping cart and took off on a bicycle.

A group of witnesses started after the teen — some running, some in their cars, and followed him back to a mobile home park where they “set up a perimeter like the cops would.”

"I was actually kind of impressed,” said Monroe County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Pauli.

Deputies arrived on scene and were able to take the teen, who is not being identified by police because of his age, into custody. The teen faces a charge of purse snatching.

The woman's purse was found in a yard and turned in by a homeowner.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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