NF Police Looking For Purse Snatcher

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 8:04 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 2, 2011 at 8:04 PM EDT

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) -- There have been a series of purse snatchings over the last several months in Niagara Falls. The most recent incident happening over the weekend. Police say it appears the suspect(s) targets elderly women coming out of grocery stores. "It's sad because women are afraid to go out by themselves, especially because they actually look for the older women, they figure can't help herself," Mary Malbestuto, a shopper, said.

Many women in the city say they're aware of the threat and are changing their habits to stay out of harms way. "You always have to be vigilant so I always keep my shoulder bag on," Mary Stirling, another shopper, said.

"My son comes with me now, I'd rather do that than have something happen," Malbestuto said.

Recently the crimes have expanded to victims' homes. It's believed the suspect follows them from the grocery store then waits in hiding behind bushes or snow piles before snatching their purse. There have been incidents on 98th Street, Simmons and Ontario Avenues.

"We are really going to have to be looking in our rear view mirrors to make sure everything looks fine back there," Stirling said.

Police say it also appears the suspect(s) may be hitting outside the city since similar incidents are now being reported across the county.

Fortunately none of the victims have been injured in these purse snatchings. If you have any information about these crimes you are encouraged to call the Niagara Falls Police Department.