JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There is a new warning to shoppers from a local woman who says she was caught off-guard by a crook on a motorcycle.
Veronica Massey told Channel 4 she was loading up groceries in her trunk and turned her back on her purse that was sitting in the front of her cart for just a second.
That's when Massey said someone on a sport motorcycle swooped in, grabbed it and took off.
Massey was shopping at the Publix at the St. Johns Town Center when she said her purse was full of credit cards, cash and holiday gifts.
"There is no holiday spirit," said Massey. "I just keep alternating between crying, mostly crying, afraid to go out of the house."
The 61-year-old Yulee resident said the person who swiped her purse was riding a cobalt blue sport motorcycle.
"I started shouting, 'Stop! Thief! He stole my purse, he stole my purse.' Everybody in the parking lot turned around," said Massey.
Massey told Channel 4 that because so many customers had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by the bike, they couldn't get a license plate number.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report also said there is no surveillance video of the incident.
"If there had been cameras, we could've potentially gotten a license plate," said Massey. "I feel that I was targeted because he knew there was no security and he could not be videotaped."
Massey wants to warn other women not to let this happen to them.
"Don't be a target, protect yourself," said Massey. "I just don't want to go anywhere to shop anymore unless I have to."
According to the police report, the man riding the cobalt blue motorcycle was wearing a black jacket, gloves and a black and a white helmet with a Honda sticker on the back.
Channel 4 checked in with Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson Wednesday night about just how quickly thieves who snatch purses act and how the public can protect themselves from becoming a victim.
"If you are uploading your groceries and you're putting in your car and you want to keep your purse with you, use these little straps right here, that's used to secure kids inside, it's very simple," said Jefferson. "If a person was to try and grab your purse, they're going to take the purse, but they'll take the entire cart with them. The best thing you can do is to have this purse, take it, put it on the floor board on the driver's side of the car, lock the car and load your groceries in."
Jefferson said people need to pay attention to how they carry their hand bags. Carrying a purse the wrong way can make someone a very easy target.
"The easiest thing he wants to see is you relaxed, not really paying attention and grab it and go," Jefferson said. "And just that quick, I've got your life. When you have a short handle purse like this, most women will carry it relaxed on their arm, when they're walking about and looking. The best thing to do it is to have this arm on top of the other arm. If I tried to grab it, it's very difficult. I, as a thief, am not going to want to tussle with you."
Jefferson said another thing shoppers should consider are other people around them. People who get too close for comfort are usually up to no good.
"Another thing that you have to be careful of is pick pockets," Jefferson said. "A lot of women, when they carry their purses, leave it open for convenience. So a pick pocket-er will come up and bump you and he's gone and he's got your wallet, just that quick.
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