String of purse snatches at Mill Lake in Abbotsford

Two women were mugged in a three week period starting Sept. 30

Two women had their purses ripped from their arms by thieves at Mill Lake over a three-week period from late September to October.

During a report to a city council meeting, Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr said the 17 per cent increase in robberies this year was due to a spat of low-level crimes, including “a series of disturbing purse snatching.”

Two women walking in the area were approached by men wearing dark clothing who grabbed their purse and bolted. It is unknown at this time whether it was the same man, according to Sgt. Judy Bird, media officer for the Abbotsford police.

The first woman, who is 83-years-old, was walking on Mill Lake Trail around 2 p.m. on Sept. 30, when she was targeted by a 30-year-old “clean-cut” caucasian man with dark hair, Bird said.

“He was walking close to her and then he grabbed her purse which was wrapped around her arm. He used his body to push her, pulling her purse free and then she fell into a chain-link fence. When she fell to the ground she hit her head.” Bird said. “This caused a cut to her head and bruised knees.”

Bird said the woman’s bank cards were used at a variety of stores in the city during the following 48 hours and her car was stolen the next day.

“It could be a coincidence,” Bird said. “[But] it would seem awfully suspicious that her car was stolen within 24 hours of her purse being stolen.”

The second woman was walking south on Ware Street around 9:15 p.m on Oct. 17. when a man, also described as in his 30s and wearing black clothing, grabbed her purse and ran off, Bird said.

“The strap on her purse broke, she actually had the strap still on her arm.”

Abbotsford police have been tracking the movement of the stolen cards and reviewing CCTV footage in stores where they were used.

Anyone with information about the robberies can call the Abbotsford police non-emergency line: 604-859-5225.

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