A man used a box cutter to rob a couple in their car at a drive-thru ATM one morning in Orlando, Florida, police said.
“Picture this: You go to make an ATM deposit and a bad guy comes out of nowhere to try and steal your purse as you sit in your car,” a post from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) said on Facebook.
That’s what happened to 55-year-old driver Mildred Ortiz who was shaken by the ordeal she experienced at a Chase Bank ATM.
The incident was captured by the bank’s surveillance footage on Sept. 8 at about 7 a.m; it shows the car driving several feet away from the ATM before stopping in the nearby Walmart parking lot.
Mildred and her husband had approached a drive-through ATM when a man appeared and reached inside the car from her side. At this point, the man placed his hand around Mildred’s neck and pulled out what looked like a box cutter knife.
According to an incident report provided to The Epoch Times, the man told Mildred to give him her wallet, purse and car, as he reached over to grab the victim’s purse.
As Mildred and her husband were in a struggle with the man, they were able to pull the purse away from the man and secure it in the car.
The suspect then pushed the push to start button inside the vehicle, shutting off her engine.
At this point, Mildred sounded the car horn to get attention.
Two men, identified as Leon Wright and Carlos Fernandez, then ran towards the car and tried to fight away the attacker who then ran away on foot.
Police are still searching for him.
One of the good Samaritans, Leon, fractured his wrist during his altercation with the man, according to the incident report.
Who is this aggressive foiled purse snatcher?” OCSO asked on their Facebook page.
Police believe the man is still in the area. They describe him as a light skin Hispanic male, in his late 20s or early 30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall. He had blond or red hair, and facial hair, they said.
Chase Bank was unable to provide further details about the robbery to The Epoch Times.
Anyone who has any helpful information about the incident are asked to contact 800-423-8477.
Rampant Purse Snatchers
A similar incident occurred in Orlando on Sept. 29 where a man attempted to grab a purse from a Dollar Tree employee in a parking lot.
The assailant attempted to rip the purse off the employee, who was thrown to the ground and dragged several feet, Orange County Sheriff’s Office said. A fellow employee witnessed the robbery and began honking her horn which caused the assailant to flee. Police released a sketch of the assailant and are still searching for the man.
On March 11, an unknown male had driven up alongside another vehicle, leaned his body out of the rear passenger side window, and snatched the victim’s purse from her hand.
The suspect pulled himself back into the vehicle and drove off. The incident occurred in a Publix parking lot in Orlando.
Some Tips to Prevent Purse and Wallet Theft
While there are no foolproof ways to avoid purse and wallet theft, there are some strategies that can minimize your risk.
According to Dallas Police (pdf), the theft of purses and wallet can be likened to the “supply and demand” concept, where snatchers see an ample of such materials. Factor in distractions and busy lifestyles, this combination makes it easier for snatchers to target purses and wallets.
According to Dallas Police, purse snatchers and pickpockets often work in teams, with one creating a distraction or asking a question while the other takes your property.
Some defense strategies include:
- Being aware of your surroundings.
- If you’re being followed, or see a person or group ahead you want to avoid, changes your path.
- Keep your arms and hands free. Don’t carry groceries in your arms, for example; use a cart. The more encumbered you are, the less you can move and escape.
- When walking, stay away from hidden doorways, shrubs, and other areas that criminals may hide when stalking their prey.
- When in public, be sure your handbag clasp or zipper is closed. Wallets and checkbooks should not protrude from pockets.
- Beware of extremely crowded areas. With people bumping into one another, it makes it easy for a thief to “bump” into you and take your property.
- Carry only small amounts of cash.
- Carry only credit cards you actually plan to use.
- Carry keys and ID in a pocket rather than in a purse or handbag.
However, if a suspect attempts to take your property by force, it is recommended that you let it go. Dallas Police say that if you are threatened, or the suspect displays a weapon (or claims to have one), give them what they want. Call and report the incident to the police immediately.
The Epoch Times reporter Henry Jom contributed to this report.