Lawton purse-snatcher strikes again

Lawton_After lying low for nearly three weeks, Lawton Police say a serial purse-snatcher has struck again.  The first robbery happened the day after New Years, and police now believe the thief has stolen the purses of seven women.  Now, there could be a break in the investigation.

Detectives say the robber got away with his latest heist around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.  It happened just like the others - in an apartment complex, this time near Northwest Cache Road, not far from where the purse-snatcher found his first victim, Kim Hanes.  But, little did the robber know he was messing with a woman of God.

Hames is the pastor of Lawton's First Christian Church.  She had just returned to her apartment on January 2, when she saw a man outside, talking on the phone.  She says she didn't think too much of it.  "I was aware of him, so I was a little suspicious," says Hames.  "I was trying to hurry and get into my apartment.  Then, all of a sudden, he came up behind me and just snatched the purse off my left arm, and he was gone."

Since her experience, Hames, along with police, have watched as more reports - all with striking similarities - came into the department.  "It's happening a lot, and it seems to be the same guy," says Captain Will Hines of the Lawton Police Department..  "We had a little break, but it looks like it's picked up again."

Before Wednesday's purse-snatching, the last robbery occurred on January 17.  In that case, the victim says he knocked her to the ground when he grabbed her purse.  "He's using the same method of operation," says Hines.  "He's waiting for a female to get out of her car, or some place where she looks vulnerable, and he's coming up, grabbing her purse, and taking off running."

It happened so quickly that Hames didn't really have time to react.  "Honestly, it happened so fast I didn't have time to think to fight back," she says.  "I'm thankful for that because it sounds like this person is being ruthless in some regard."

Although it's taken a few weeks, Hames says she's finally overcoming some anxiety and stress brought on by her ordeal.  "You look around, like, 'are you going to grab it'?  That's a normal reaction, of course, when something like this happens," she says.

Captain Hines offers his advice:  "If you see someone walking around who looks suspicious, or keeps walking around, don't get out of the car.  Drive somewhere else - call police.  Let us come out there and find out.  He might be the guy we're looking for."

Pastor Hames says a good Samaritan found her purse and returned it to her about an hour after it was taken.  She says her congregation also raised money to replace some of her money that was stolen.

Police say last night's victim chased the robber and saw him get into a maroon, or dark red, pickup truck.  Most of the victims say he's a bald black man about 6'2" tall.  Crimestoppers is offering a cash reward for information leading the arrest of the suspect.  If you have any information call them at 580-355-INFO.