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Stolen purse shows need for caution
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Surveillance cameras at USA Gym show the suspect’s vehicle, believed to be a Subaru Crosstrek. According to time stamps, the suspect went immediately from the gym to Walmart to buy gift cards with a stolen credit card.

McMinnville police are searching for the person who smashed a car window, stole a lady’s purse, then used her credit card to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards from Walmart.

The events took place within an hour Wednesday morning beginning around 7 a.m. According to McMinnville Police, the victim parked her car at a local gym and noticed another person sitting in a vehicle as she entered the facility. When she returned from her workout, her window had been smashed and her purse was gone.

When she called to cancel her credit card, it had already been used at our Walmart to buy numerous gift cards. McMinnville Police detective Todd Rowland declined to give a dollar amount but said the monetary loss, including cash stolen, was very substantial.

“We pulled the video from Walmart but couldn’t really tell much,” said Rowland. “He kept his head down and was wearing a hoodie so there’s not a clear look at his face. We know he’s a tall, thin, white male believed to be driving a white Subaru Crosstrek with black wheels.”

Rowland says the larger message is for people to be careful about the valuables they leave in their vehicles. He said a regional group called the Felony Lane Gang has popularized preying on people who will be away from their cars for an hour or more.

“They look for people going in gyms, going in movie theaters, places where people may not take their purse,” said Rowland. “This is a very common practice. In some cases they come from bigger cities to small towns and hit several places at the same time. It’s always important to remember to pay attention to your surroundings. If something doesn’t seem right, there’s a good chance it’s not right so give us a call.”

Rowland said Wednesday’s car burglary could turn out to be an isolated incident, but that local residents should keep up their guard. He added people visiting walking trails are prime targets because they are usually away from their vehicle for at least 30 minutes and often don’t take their wallet or purse with them during exercise.

“People think they’re OK because it’s a locked car, but it only takes a minute to break a window and be gone,” said Rowland. “Don’t get tunnel vision.”

Anyone with information about the purse theft can call investigators at 473-3386.