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Police urge precaution after string of parish purse-snatchings

By Shonna Riggs -   Oct 18, 2007

A Destrehan woman, whose purse was ripped from her shoulder while she was placing groceries in her car, is the latest victim of a spree of random purse snatchings that have occurred recently on both the east and west banks of the parish.

Capt. Patrick Yoes, spokesman for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents to take precaution.

 "I can't really advise residents to worry about the time of day, because the purse snatchings have occurred both during the day time and at night," he said. "I can only encourage residents to check out their surroundings very carefully."
Yoes says if you see anything unusual, report it to the police  as quickly as you can and make sure to  get out of harm's way.

"We do need the community's help,” Yoes said. “We believe this is the result of crime spilling over into our parish from some other areas.”

Two of those incidents occurred in Luling.  On Aug. 18, a 49-year-old woman had her purse snatched, as she was coming out of the VFW Hall.  An unknown male walked up to her and snatched her purse from behind.

Charles Baloney was arrested after a Sept. 21 incident where he snatched a woman's purse while she was walking back to her car after leaving the CVS pharmacy in Luling at 11:20  a.m. Baloney was apprehended and injured a St. Charles Parish Detective in the process.

Self-defense instructor Lt. Pam Schmidt gives these tips for women to protect themselves from purse snatching.

"Bad guys and girls look for a victim looking person," she said.  " A victim is a person who is looking down at the ground, got their arms folded to shield their purse for fear."

Schmitt says people figure if they don't look at the bad guy, then he or she won't look back at the individual.

"This is completely wrong," she said. "You haven't looked at them, so they know you don't have a good description of them. The posturing makes you a prime target in their eyes."
Schmitt says criminals can tell who will fight them back and they know who will just lie down for whatever may come.

"A person's mindset has got to change in order to prevent them from being the next victim," she said. "Your walk has got to change, you have a more definite attitude."

Schmidt suggests, holding your head up and  putting your purse under one arm with the strap interlaced in your fingers.

"As you walk, scout out what might be a potential threat and veer away from the danger," she said. "If getting out of the way is not an option, stare hard at your potential aggressor."

Schmidt says get a good description from head to toe, judge them off your height and weight.

"You know how tall you are and how much you weigh, the age is sometimes a little hard to do, but do your best to guess an age," she said.

Schmitt says if you are leaving a store and there is someone by your vehicle, turn around and get the manager or ask him or her to call the police for assistance. 

"There is no law that says you have to walk to your car," she said. "If you are unloading a child, make sure no one is close to you."

Schmitt says this should be a fluid motion. Have your keys in hand and ready.

"It's my belief that the child should be the last to load into the car because the bad guys are after fast money and vehicles," she said. "Be watchful, be alert, and be vigilant."

St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office and the St. Charles Parish School System have been partners in preventing crimes by teaching self-defense classes for women and kids. 

Community education hosts classes two times a year in the fall and the spring.  For more information on self-defense training contact Lt. Pam Schmitt, at 985-783-1355.

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