A series of violent purse-snatchings downtown were quickly halted thanks to quick police work by officers in 14 Division at the end of the year.
Two 14-year-old boys were arrested for two counts of robbery each for allegedly stealing and attempting to steal purses from two women on Dec. 28. The teenagers are also being investigated as Persons of Interest for two more purse-snatchings earlier the same day.
On Dec. 28 around 6:30 p.m., a 25-year-old woman was walking alone near Wellington Street West and Spadina Avenue.
“She was looking at her cellphone when she was approached from behind and the (suspect) put his hand over her mouth,” said Detective Constable Stan Dlugopolski, of the 14 Division’s Major Crime Unit. The two boys allegedly demanded her purse, which the victim gave up and they then took off running, said Dlugopolski. The victim’s purse was recovered by police with only a debit card missing.
About an hour later, around 7:30 p.m., another young woman was allegedly approached by two boys, in the Queen’s Quay and Spadina Ave. area, where she was attacked from behind in a similar manner. This woman fought back causing one suspect to grab her in a choke hold and push her to the ground.
“She was a waitress coming back from her shift,” said Dlugopolski, who said the victim suffered cuts and bruises due to the struggle. When the victim did not release her purse, she was allegedly threatened by one suspect who said he had a gun. Unsuccessful in their attempt to steal her purse, the teenagers took off running. About half-an-hour later, they were stopped by Primary Response officers Constables Daniel Han and Jordan Brooks.
The two constables were stopping people matching descriptions of the purse-snatchers in the area, after the last robbery. The two boys were stopped and their information was taken down, said Dlugopolski.
“I believe this would have continued if they weren’t stopped by officers,” said Dlugopolski, who thinks they boys were looking for cash and would have continued their alleged spree of attacks.
The next day, Dlugopolski and his partner Detective Constable Anatol Goldiloust reviewed video footage of the crime. Video footage matched the two individuals stopped by Constables Han and Brooks. After successful identification of the suspects, the teenagers were arrested for two counts of robbery each.
The 14-year-olds are also being investigated for two more purse-snatchings from earlier in the day in the same area. In one robbery, the suspects allegedly fired shots from a cap gun to scare off the victim after stealing her purse, according to Dlugopolski. In this case, they had to throw the purse away as a witness saw the crime being committed and chased after the suspects. The victim’s purse was recovered from a parking lot with nothing missing.
The second purse-snatching of the day occurred near Fort York and Grand Magazine Street, where a 26-year-old woman was approached from behind, similar to the other robberies, and asked for her purse. She gave her purse up and the suspects fled. The purse was also recovered, with only a credit card missing.
Dlugopolski reminded people to always be aware of where they are walking and who is around them.
“Be aware of your surroundings when walking by yourself. Lots of people are looking down at their cellphones and have their earphones on,” he said.