Purse snatching has neighborhood on alert
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Violent acts in Coral Gables are causing concern after several women were ambushed by thieves trying to steal their purses.
The non-profit group Gables Good Government Committee released their quarterly newsletter in which they mentioned an increase in crime and specifically talked about purse snatching, 12 of them in 2012, compared to four 2011, and just this past weekend there were two back to back purse snatching incidents.
Anahi Arza who is in Coral Gables visiting from Paraguay said, "It looks nice. It looks like a safe area."
Coral Gables resident Mary de la Garza added, "This is Coral Gables. I thought it's a good place."
Most people have the same perception of Coral Gables, but not all. Gaye Gungor, a Turkish resident who is in town for a conference, said she no longer feels safe in the "City Beautiful" after a purse snatching in this LeJeune Road Courtyard Marriott left her scarred and bruised on a Saturday afternoon.
Gungor said, "For Marriott, completely bad publicity for Marriott, but also for Coral Gables." She added, "When I was unlocking the door, this guy said, 'Hi,' and by the time I turned, he grabbed my purse."
Scared to lose her passport, she grabbed on to the purse snatcher's car and was dragged on the asphalt.
The hotel released a statement saying, "We deeply regret what happened to one of our guests in the parking lot of the hotel. The safety, security and well-being of our guests are paramount priority for us, and we are committed in providing a safe and comfortable environment for all our guests."
Gungor said, "I had to get up myself, bleeding and screaming, and no one was hearing me."
But security cameras did catch another Coral Gables purse snatching less than 24 hours later. The victim, 81-year-old Hortensina Alonso, said, "I didn't move."
Alonso was paralyzed by fear when a man she described as bald, thin, white and standing about five feet 5 inches tall snatched her purse as she walked back to her car. She had just finished having lunch with her family on Giralda Avenue restaurant row.
The surveillance video shows the man and his accomplice getting away in a white four-door car and speeding down an alley.
Coral Gables Police say no community is immune from purse snatching or any other crime, not even the "City Beautiful," where police officers ride Segways in the downtown area. Coral Gables Police Chief Scott Masington said, "We've had purse snatchings in the past, and I'm sure we'll have them in the future."
Restaurant owner Guido Bazoalto said, "I can't believe that happened here."
The man involved in the Giralda Avenue purse-snatching is described as a 5-foot-5-inch white male with a thin build and was wearing a plaid long-sleeve shirt during the snatching.
If you have any information on these purse snatchings, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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