Bloomington purse-snatching victim chases, catches thief

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Dec. 9, 2015) -- A thief who snatched a woman's purse in a grocery store parking lot picked the wrong victim and ended up in jail.

On Monday night, at the Kroger on South College Mall Road in Bloomington, Christina Hurlow was loading her groceries into the back of her car when she caught something out of the corner of her eye.

"I didn’t even notice him until he had his hand on my purse and he grabbed it off my shoulder," Hurlow said.

It was David Brown, 24, according to police, who grabbed Hurlow's purse and took off running across the parking lot. She ran after him.

"The whole time I was chasing him, I was just yelling, ‘He took my purse! He stole my purse! Someone please stop him or help me!'" Hurlow said.

People did hear her and many strangers sprung into action. Brown jumped into his girlfriend's car and started to drive away. As he did, one Good Samaritan got his license plate number and called 911, while another picked Hurlow up and suggested the two follow the car.

Hurlow and the stranger ended up finding the car at a stoplight. She jumped out, pounded on Brown's window and demanded her purse back. After he threw the purse out the window and started running away, Hurlow went a step further -- she got into the passenger seat and demanded that Brown's girlfriend drive her back to Kroger.

"I have kids that are in their 20’s and I could tell both of them were very young and I just said to her, I said, ‘Do you and your boyfriend make a habit of stealing people’s purses at Christmastime?’" Hurlow said.

After they were back at Kroger, police took over. A K9 officer found Brown and he was booked into jail on charges of robbery and theft.

"The motivation was money for drugs, specifically heroin," Capt. Joe Qualters, with Bloomington Police, said.

Qualters said that while Hurlow's actions did catch the thief, he wouldn't recommend them and is thankful everything ended peacefully.

"It worked out in this particular case, but that is certainly not something that we can advocate or encourage people to do," Qualters said.

Hurlow agreed, saying in retrospect she shouldn't have jumped into a stranger's car, especially in such heated circumstances.

"In hindsight, all the police even told me, please don’t get in cars with people that you don’t know ... and I totally know that, it’s just the adrenaline kind of hit me," Hurlow said.

She said that after the fact, she even had sympathy for Brown and his girlfriend.

"I actually said a prayer for them because I just kind of felt sorry for their situation and how desperate their life was ... but I sure didn’t want it to happen to anyone else," Hurlow said.

That's why she now has a message to everyone this holiday season, since police say crimes like this tend to rise.

"The main thing that I would want to say to everyone is just be aware of your surroundings. ... I never, ever would have thought something like that would happen to me," Hurlow said.

Bloomington Police suggest that if you are robbed, you get as much information as you can and call 911 immediately, in order to help officers catch the criminal in the moments after the crime happens. They also say you should always call them if you see suspicious people or vehicles, especially in shopping centers or parking lots.

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