Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 1, 2013

Smash and grab

Citizens should safeguard belongings

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Purse snatchers are now targeting families attending after-school sporting events in Mercer County. Shameful! Now mothers can’t take their sons and daughters to baseball, soccer or tennis games without worrying about having their purse, or other personal belongings, stolen.

The Princeton Police Department has investigated about 15 smash-and-grab cases involving purses over the past few weeks, according to Cpt. P.W. Hill. He is offering simple but important advice for area women to follow — if you must bring your purse with you to an after-school ball game, make sure it is secured in the trunk or your vehicle, or another hard-to-find location.

“If they have to bring their purse with them it would be my suggestion that they put the purse in the trunk of the car before they leave home,” Hill said last week. “The trunk is a place that conceals a purse completely. And it is something they can do before they leave home.”

The smash-and-grab purse thefts are unfortunately a yearly occurrence in our region. Hill said the Princeton Police Department deals with such crimes each year. However, the problem in recent weeks has been focused on sporting events in the Princeton area, including the recent basketball and now baseball games.

The thieves appear to be attracted to locations where there are a large number of vehicles parked in the lot. That’s why all women attending such evening sporting events with their children should choose to either leave their purse at home, or conceal their purse in the trunk of their vehicle before they leave home. Leaving it in plain view in the front or even backseat of a vehicle is an invitation to a thief.

“They go for cash (in the purse) and anything they can dispose of (quickly),” Hill said. “We would suggest people secure their vehicles. Especially women with purses. Put those in the trunk, or secure them out of sight before they get to the venues.”

Given the recent rash of smash-and-grab thefts, we would urge all area residents to make sure that their purses, bags, packages and other belongings are safely secured in the trunk of their vehicle, or another hard-to-see location, before attending such evening functions.

And we wish area law enforcement officials the best of luck in tracking down and prosecuting these thieves to the fullest extent of the law. Given that security cameras are present at many schools, and school-related facilities, it is our hope that an arrest or arrests can soon be made in connection with these crimes. In the meantime, anyone with information regarding these smash-and-grab purse thefts is urged to contact the Princeton Police Department at 304-487-5000.