Three purse-snatchings in a week, police offering tips to avoid becoming a victim

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Three purse snatchings in parking lots along Route 60 this week are indicative of a big problem that is getting bigger, according to West Virginia State Police.

Trooper Will Hash, who is investigating an incident on Friday evening where a woman had her purse stolen out of her shopping cart, says drug addiction is the main reason these thefts are happening.

He says police have seen an increase in these types of thefts.

"If it keeps up like this, someone is going to get seriously hurt," says Hash. "And lately there have been a lot of women who became victims. We want them to keep their heads on a swivel and carry a weapon... ...because of the world we live in."

The "world" Trooper Hash is referring to is one where police are seeing drugs change good people into criminals that will go to extreme lengths to support their habits.

Police are asking the public, particularly elderly women, to do the following, when they go out:

1. Do not carry a large purse. Police say large purses attract attention, increasing the chances that you could become a victim of theft; take just what you need with you when you leave your vehicle.

2. If you have a large bag, strap it down in your car. Police say this makes a quick smash-and-grab much harder to commit.

3. Keep a firm grip on any bag you are carrying. Police say thieves are looking for someone who is off-guard or loosely holding something valuable. It's also recommended that you wear the bag strap *across* your body, instead of just over one shoulder.

4. Keep your keys in your hand. Police say they want good people to carry legal weapons. If you don't have a weapon, or are against carrying one, car keys can become a weapon by holding them in your fist with a key sticking out. There are even key chains designed for this purpose. Police say a stab or punch with a key can create enough space to allow you to get away.

5. Look around. It sounds simple, but police say shoppers are often in their own world, not paying full attention to their surroundings. They say criminals look for someone who appears to be unconcerned or unexpecting, and they can pick up on whether or not you're on the lookout.


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