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Deputies: Man sought after snatching woman's purse in Publix parking lot

Deputies say man was at Gator's Dockside on Murabella Parkway before incident

Surveillance images from Gator's Dockside released by St. Johns County Sheriff's Office
Surveillance images from Gator's Dockside released by St. Johns County Sheriff's Office

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man is sought after snatching a woman's purse Tuesday in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store on Murabella Parkway, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said. 

Deputies said a 60-year-old woman was loading groceries into her car about 6:45 p.m. when a man grabbed her purse out of the shopping cart and ran into the nearby Gator's Dockside restaurant. 

The woman then began to chase the man, yelling for help. Two witnesses heard her and approached the man, who then threw the purse at them and took off in an SUV, deputies said.

The purse was returned to the woman, who suffered minor injuries, deputies said.

Deputies said the man was described as being a white male with facial hair wearing glasses, a baseball cap, a blue or teal-colored plaid shirt over a black T-shirt and light colored-shorts and shoes. Investigators said they learned the man was at Gator's Dockside for a short time before the purse snatching.

As the holiday shopping season approaches, Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said shoppers need to look around before heading to their vehicles and be extra cautious. 

"This time of year, I would highly recommend women wear crossbody purses and keep that on them. You don't want to leave them inside the car or inside the cart when you're loading packages," Smith said. "People who are looking to snatch someone's purse, they try do that when the person is alone. So if you're ever shopping at a place where they offer assistance, or maybe you can ask someone to carry your bags out to your car for you, that would be a great idea."

Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to call Detective Kyle Braig at 904-209-2148 or email kbraig@sjso.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS.