GASTONIA, N.C. -- Gastonia Police are asking for the public’s help identifying a purse snatcher caught on camera.
Michelle Garrett says she was loading her groceries into her car at the Food Lion in West Garrison Boulevard when someone ran up and stole her purse from her shopping cart.
Police reviewed surveillance video and shared this photo of the suspect on Facebook.
“She looks around and just grabs my pocketbook,” Garrett recalled. “Gastonia is so small. Someone knows who she is, or knows something, and they won't just come forward.”
Police say this is a growing problem that could happen to anyone at any time, especially with the holidays coming up.
“You might set your purse in there and kind of leave it unattended, and it could just be a split second that someone goes in your purse and takes something or just takes the whole purse and walks away,” CMPD officer Johnathan Frisk said.
“I do the best I can, it just takes everything from you,” Garrett, a single mother of three, said through tears. “I’m one of those people that would give you the shirt off my back if you would just ask, but that's taking from my kids.”
Police say you should be wary of any cars that pull up close to you or anyone following you closely.
And even when you’re inside the store, keep your belongings close.
Garrett knows cash and cards can be replaced. But the family photos on her phone and her sense of security can't.
“It would be better to get in touch with me versus getting charges filed from the police department,” she said. “Just give me my stuff back and just walk the other way, I just want my stuff back.”
Police believe the thief escaped the scene in a black MINI Cooper.
Anyone who can identify her is asked to contact Officer Prater at (704) 866-6702 or Crime Stoppers of Gaston County at (704) 861-8000. Crime Stoppers pays cash for a tip that leads to an arrest.
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