ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg police investigators are searching for a man who robbed a woman in the Tyrone Square parking lot Thursday night.
The victim had just left the mall at 9:25 p.m. when she noticed a man following her.
“When she noticed this man got out of a car and started following her and started coming towards her,” said Yolanda Fernandez with the St. Petersburg Police Department.
Police say she quickly got in her PT Cruiser.
“She ran to her car, got in and locked the door and he came and he wanted her purse, so he shot the window out took her purse.”
The woman wasn’t hurt, but now detectives are worried for the safety of others.
They urge shoppers to be on high alert.
“We normally don’t see a purse snatching like this, where somebody shoots out a car window to get at someone’s purse. This is really unusual and that’s why we’re a little concerned because this criminal is particularly brazen,” said Fernandez.
People shopping at Tyrone Square were cautious.
“Especially on holidays like this, Black Friday, a lot of that happens around here,” said shopper Edwin Sanchez.
Shopper Angelica Gonzalez said, “I just take extra precaution. I always look around and I always make sure I wrap my pocketbook around me.”
Law enforcement is set up at numerous shopping outlets across the Tampa Bay area.
Investigators warn to stay vigilant of your surroundings, leave the mall in groups and don’t leave any valuables in your car or take bags to your vehicle to drop off.
Police say thieves are always looking for an opportunity, especially with the holiday shopping season in full swing.
“There are criminals out there that are going to take advantage of seeing someone by themselves, unfortunately,” said Fernandez.
Detectives say the suspect jumped in a Saturn waiting nearby.
The Saturn was recovered shortly afterward near 9th Avenue South and 44th Street South. It had been reported stolen a few days ago. The vehicle was processed for evidence.
Detectives are investigating and viewing all available surveillance video from the area.
Throughout the weekend, the police department will increase the number of officers in all areas of the parking lot as well as inside the mall.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call police at 893-7780 or text SSPD + their tip to TIP411 and refer to report #2017-053835.
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