A senior citizen was the victim of a strong-arm robbery in the HEB parking lot, located at 701 W. Parkwood Avenue at 2:52 p.m. on August 19. The woman was loading her groceries into her car parked in one of the first row handicapped parking spaces, when she realized that someone snatched her purse out of the shopping cart. A black male, later identified as Ray Patterson, Jr., was running away with her purse so the victim screamed for help.
That’s when customers and employees jumped into action. A 23-year old League City man and two HEB employees ran after Patterson. Patterson jumped into the passenger side of a black Ford car and threw the victim’s purse inside. The pursuing customer grabbed Patterson from behind and was able to hold him until police arrived within minutes.
Several witnesses provided a description of the get-a-away driver and the license plate on the car. One female witness even tried to lean into the car and grab the purse, but as she did, the driver grabbed the purse, pulled it toward him, and sped away. As he drove off, the passenger side door hit and injured the female witness.
Investigators were able to track down the suspect vehicle to the Coopers Mill Apartments located at 15603 Gulf Freeway after a stolen credit card was used at a local gas station. The driver, identified as Emmanuel Harris, was taken into custody not only for the robbery but for two outstanding warrants – one for a Harris County Probation Violation and the other a Galveston County warrant for contempt of court for child support.
Friendswood officers were able to locate some of the victim’s stolen property, including her driver’s license, but were not able to recover the purse. Emmanuel Bernard Harris, 24, of Texas City, and Ray Patterson, Jr., 33, of League City, were charged with Aggravated Robbery. Harris’ bond was set at $80,000 and Patterson’s bond was set at $40,000.
Shoppers can minimize their chances of becoming a purse snatching victim by following a few simple precautions:
- Don’t carry a shoulder bag over your shoulder. This makes it easier for a thief to grab your bag, knock your down and injure you.
- Carry a small clutch-type handbag underneath your arm.
- Don’t walk with your purse dangling or wrap the strap around your shoulder, neck or wrist. A strong tug from a thief could injure you.
- Shop with a friend. You’re safer when you’re not alone.
- Don’t carry large sums of money, valuable jewelry or all of your credit cards in your purse. Instead, carry only what you need for the day. This includes one check instead of the whole checkbook.
- Finally, don’t leave your purse in a shopping cart or on a counter – not even for a moment. That’s an invitation to a thief.