JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are searching for a man accused of robbing a person outside a Family Dollar store in Northwest Jacksonville earlier this month, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday afternoon.
The man asked a person for a cigarette in the parking lot of the Family Dollar on Lem Turner Road on Nov. 18 and as he approached, he tried to grab that person's purse, police said.
The victim tried to push him away, but during the scuffle, police said, the man was able to take the purse before running off.
Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said the incident serves as a warning to always keep belongings close.
"That happens a lot. People ask for cigarettes, or ask for spare change, especially with a female. If someone comes up to you with that question, you want to just hold onto your purse and just deny them," Smith said.
Denying a possible attacker will create distance, Smith said. He also urged women to take several steps to reduce the chance of a criminal getting away with their purse.
"If you have a crossbody purse, I see a lot of women who just hang it over the shoulder and the purse is hanging down. Pull it over the neck," Smith said. "If it's not a crossbody purse, still, when you're out of the store, hold it tight to your body, wear it on your shoulder and just hold it close."
Police described the man as a white male in his late 20s to early 30s, between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 140-160 pounds with brown hair and has tattoos covering both his arms, chest and back.
"It's important, if you can, to get a clothing description or even if you can a tag number because that can be difficult, maybe make and model if you know what it is, but a tag would be great -- even a partial tag. Get a few numbers and letters, whatever you can get is very helpful to police," Smith said.
Anyone with information about the man's identity or location is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.