Purse Snatcher Targets Cordova Church

| March 2, 2010

(Cordova 3/1/2010) Memphis Police are searching for a purse snatcher targeting women at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Cordova.

So far, he's struck three times in the past two weeks.

"People have this idea, I go to church, church is safe," said Msgr. Peter Buchignani.

The victims range in age from early 50s to 70.

"What's unusual about this, is that it occurred during a church service, which is in all my years as a priest I've never seen this happen," he said.

Police say the suspect preys on women seated near the back of the church. They say he waits until they walk away to take communion.

"I think for someone to do that so brazenly, it's someone very desperate," said Msgr. Buchignani. "So I wouldn't be surprised it it's someone looking for quick money for drugs."

February 20, the police report states a crook reached over the back of his victim's pew to take her purse. She didn't get a good look at him, but another parishoner spotted a teenager running from the church.

Nearly a week later, the thief was spotted running with another woman's purse. But in that incident. police say he dropped it before speeding away in a Honda.

Off-camera, the victim tells WREG she had just shaken hands with the victim during the sign of piece.

Some couldn't believe someone would commit a crime in place of worship, others weren't surprised at all.

"What criminals are looking for is opportunity. What better opportunity to do a crime in than in a place people think they're safe," said Jessica Crenshaw.

Msgr. Buchignani advised all members of his congregation to hold onto their belongings at all times. So far police have not made any arrests. If you can help them with this one call Crimestoppers at 528-CASH.



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Category: Church Security

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