A frantic mother chased after the stranger, fearing her infant son had been snatched from his car seat.
The suspected thief had waited to make her move until the woman turned her back to return a shopping cart at the Marysville Wal-Mart. Then she reached into the woman’s vehicle, raced away and jumped into a waiting car.
The mother ran after her and lunged through the passenger window. As the getaway car sped up she was forced to let go.
She was thankful for what the woman left behind.
Her baby, just 9 weeks old, was safe. Her purse was gone.
On Tuesday, Bothell police arrested the suspected thief.
They think she is behind a similar incident Monday. A woman was dragged across a parking lot when she attempted to get her purse back after it was snatched from her car while the victim returned a shopping cart.
The suspect, Sara Cruver, 19, appeared in Everett District Court on Thursday. She was ordered held on $320,000 bail for investigation of first- and second-degree robbery in the Marysville and Bothell thefts.
Allen Knoll, 21, believed to be the getaway driver in the Marysville theft, was ordered held on $250,000 bail.
Police across Snohomish County are investigating Cruver, Knoll and others in connection with numerous thefts and forgeries. The suspects are believed to be involved in dozens of purse thefts in the county and elsewhere, including stores in Woodinville and Kirkland, Bothell police Capt. Denise Langford said.
The suspects allegedly steal purses out of unlocked cars at shopping centers, often after women have unloaded their purchases and are returning the carts.
They quickly use stolen credit cards to buy electronics and gift cards, often at Target stores. That loot is then sold or pawned for cash. A stolen purse even wound up in a consignment shop.
Cruver, of Mukilteo, allegedly told Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives she is addicted to prescription painkillers and steals so she can buy OxyContin, court documents show.
Prosecutors have charged her with theft, forgery and possession of stolen property connected to two purse snatchings. She is a suspect in numerous other cases, according to police.
Police believe she steals the purses and her cohorts use the stolen credit cards to get cash.
Everett police arrested Cruver in June but she posted bail. She was locked up after a woman reported her purse was stolen from her vehicle while she was wheeling a cart back to a return carousel.
The victim’s 5-year-old son already was buckled in the back seat and witnessed the theft, police said.
Cruver allegedly has told investigators she ripped off at least one purse a day between May 14 and June 19, according to a police affidavit. She claimed that the group made at least $500 a day, court documents said.
She targets women, often those who have their children with them, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Travis Johnson said.
“She is stealing from innocent victims in parking lots,” he said.
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or email@example.com.