Bystanders aid woman after purse snatching


Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 10:54 p.m.
Three men came to the rescue of a Lake City woman who was knocked down by a man grabbing for her purse in a Gainesville parking lot Wednesday afternoon.
Karen Cacace was walking through the parking lot to Circuit City, at 7001 NW 4th Blvd., at 12:20 p.m., when she noticed three young men standing around looking suspicious, she said. "But it was 12 o'clock in the afternoon and I didn't think they would do anything," Cacace, 36, said.
But still, she had a funny feeling. And when one of the men leaned over her and pretended to wave to someone nearby, she had a feeling something was going to happen.
It did.
The man grabbed her purse. Cacace tried to hang on to it but he tackled her and wrestled it away, knocking her to the ground. He ran one way and the other two ran the opposite way.
Dan Snyder of Gainesville was installing gutters nearby at Home Depot when he heard someone holler that the man had knocked a woman down and stolen her purse.
Snyder, along with co-worker Ivan Thomason of Melrose and Home Depot customer Greg Slone of Newberry, chased the robber to Interstate 75. The robber climbed over a few fences and escaped- but not before giving up Cacace's purse.
"I just wanted to be helpful," said Snyder, an employee at Quality Plumbing of Gainesville. "She (Cacace) thanked us half a dozen times."
Back at Circuit City, Cacace, who works for a local property management company, waited for police. But she didn't have to wait alone.
One woman had noticed the three young men and thought they looked suspicious. She was on the phone with 911 when Cacace got robbed and then stayed with her until police came.
"You hear so many bad things in the news about people who don't want to get involved," Cacace said. "It was so heartwarming to see people who were willing to help."
Cacace suffered a skinned knee and palms but didn't need medical attention. Usually she carries her purse tucked under her arm, but she had it slung over her shoulder Wednesday, Cacace said.
Authorities recommend women carry their purse in their hand or tucked under their arm, at least while they are in a parking lot, said Alachua County Sheriff's Lt. Jim Troiano.
"Purse snatchings are a crime of opportunity," Troiano said. "If the opportunity presents itself to criminals they will capitalize on that."
Most people also shouldn't fight a robber unless they have the training and ability to do so, Troiano added.
"The valuables are not as valuable as your life," he said.
Sheriff's officials were searching Wednesday for the three men.
Anyone with information is asked to call 955-1818 or Crime Stoppers at 372-7867.
Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@gvillesun.com.

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