Authorities warn of serial purse snatcher in Orange County

Authorities warn of serial purse snatcher in Orange County

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Orange County deputies are warning women to beware of a purse snatcher.  Three women were attacked within seven hours on Monday night outside a store and movie theater.

Deputies released surveillance of the suspect on Tuesday.  They say he is targeting women at Walmart on East Colonial. According to investigators, he wants to snatch their purses.

"What this suspect appears to be doing is following women, specifically women around Walmart," said Jane Watrel with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.  "The store video shows him following them around for 10 minutes as he's looking for his target. He's looking for that woman absorbed in what she's doing."

The first incident happened at around 6 o'clock Monday night. The suspect, dressed in a white tank-top and striped shorts, waits for the victim to check out.

"She goes out to her car, there's a struggle but he reaches into the car, grabs the purse and takes off," said Watrel.

At midnight, deputies say the suspect headed over to Regal Cinemas at Waterford Lakes and tried stealing a purse from a woman who had just left the theater.  He pepper-sprays her in the face, but he takes off.  He doesn't get the purse. Investigators tell us, it doesn't stop this man with a tribal tattoo on his right arm, from returning.

"Within the hour, he's back at Walmart, following women, finds a victim, singles her out, follows her around she walks out to her car and that's when he grabs the purse off her arm and takes off," Watrel added.

Officers say this guy isn't working alone.

"We believe somebody is with him in a green SUV or a green suburban," Watrel said.  

It's frightening for customers in the area like Lisa Zuber.

"It worries me, because we do a lot of shopping not paying attention at times," she said.

 Brittaney Hubble plans to be more aware of her surroundings.

"It makes me not want to come here by myself," she told us. 

But if you do shop alone, deputies want you to be alert.  The victims were in their 20s and 30s.

"Be aware of your surroundings. If it doesn't feel right go back in the store. Ask a security guard to walk you out," Watrel said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 877-423-TIPS (8477).

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