crime scene

Purse snatch murders

I REMEMBER purse snatchings. For a time in the 1980s, they were the crime of choice in Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods.

Back then, when young thugs preyed on women for little more than grocery money, the crimes almost always looked the same. The thief would run by, snatch the purse and take off at a dead run. Perhaps the victim would cry out, or fall down, or feebly give chase, but she rarely lost more than her pocketbook and its contents. She was always able to walk away.

No more.

Four purse snatch-related shootings have taken place since January. Twenty-nine-year-old Melissa Thomas was killed and a companion was wounded when two hooded men took their purses and shot both women at 53rd and Pine. A 23-year-old woman’s purse was snatched on the 2600 block of West Lehigh Ave., and her 24-year-old boyfriend was shot and wounded when he gave chase. Amber Long, 26, was shot to death in front of her mother during a purse snatching in Northern Liberties.

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