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Police make public aware of purse thief

Women who attend church services need to watch their purses carefully, Selma police officers say.

At least three incidences by members of three difference churches were reported to police recently of purses stolen on Sunday mornings during the last three weeks. The suspect’s description is the same in all three cases, according to Lt. David Evans, spokesman for the Selma Police Department.

Evans described the suspect as black male, about 20 years old.

“He comes to the church under the pretense of wanting to worship with the congregation, and then uses the worship time to steal unattended purses,” Evans said. “After stealing the purses he abandons them in a bathroom after taking out the cash. In one case, he was even brazen enough to call the church and get a ride on the church bus before committing the theft.”

Evans said police officers have developed substantial leads in the thefts, and the detective division of the police department is following up the leads.

“Often times, incidents such as this go unreported due to the forgiving nature of churches. But the police department is requesting that if any similar incidents have occurred that have not been reported, please let them know so that this person may be brought before an earthly judge to account for his actions,” Evans said.

Authorities say people should always guard their personal possessions, even while in church. Women should not leave their purses unattended and out of their sight, unless the purses are locked in a secure area.

“It is the nature of the criminals to strike when we feel safest and let our guard down,” Evans said. “The opportunities to victimize us can be greatly reduced by being vigilant at all times, even while worshipping.”

If anyone has any other similar incidents that have yet to be reported, or have any information on these crimes, please call the Selma Police Department at 874-2133 or the Crime Stoppers line at 1-866-44Crime (1-866-442-7463).