CASCADE, Mich — Seven teenagers are in custody after an arrest early Tuesday morning. Deputies found stolen purses at the scene and believe this is connected to a number of purse snatching incidents over the last few months.
The Kent County Sheriff's Office says it's happening more often — purses snatched right from their owners hands.
"Frequently, these purse snatchings are happening at a grocery store," says Sgt. Eric Brunner. "Most commonly, it's a female by themselves with a shopping cart in the parking lot."
On Tuesday morning, they arrested seven teenagers they believe to be the ones committing the crimes. A stolen Jeep was identified in the area of 28th Street and I-96 and traced to the Country Inn and Suites in Cascade Township.
Five suspects attempted to flee in that Jeep, damaging a police cruiser in the process. Two more suspects were found inside a hotel room, alongside a stolen handgun and several purses.
"They're committing unarmed robberies with the stolen vehicles," says Brunner. "They're then going to retailers right afterwards and using those credit cards or cash in that purse to attempt to make more purchases illegally."
Sgt. Brunner described an incident that happened in February where a victim was approached by stranger in a Cascade Township parking lot.
"A young suspect wearing a surgical mask ran up, stole the purse out of her cart and jumped into an awaiting vehicle," he says.
That waiting vehicle is thought to be the one recovered on Tuesday.
"We believe this stolen Jeep was involved in that incident and some others around metro Grand Rapids," says Brunner.
He says if you're a victim of a similar incident, it may be best to let law enforcement find your things for you.
"At the end of the day, your purse, the money, the credit cards, the things that are in there, they are property that can be replaced," says Brunner. "And we don't want someone to be injured or worse over that, because these suspects are not using good judgment whatsoever."
All of the seven suspects are in custody, five of them at a juvenile detention center because they're under 18. Brunner says while they await charges on Tuesday morning's incident, even more could still come if they are connected to the recent purse snatchings.
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