Police Chase Pic

Special Photo/DPD

Douglasville police are looking for a suspect they believe stole purses from victims pumping gas at two Douglas County stations Sunday morning. This photo shows the first theft at the Murphy Oil on Thornton Road at 10:30 a.m. The same suspect, who was driving a new Kia Sorento SUV with drive-out tags, is believed to have committed the same crime at the RaceTrac on Highway 5 later Sunday morning. The victim in the second crime called 911 with a description of the vehicle, which led to a high-speed chase on Interstate 20.

Douglasville police were involved in a high-speed chase Sunday after a suspect stole purses from vehicles at gas stations on Thornton Road and Highway 5.

Capt. Brad Stafford said there have been five similar crimes, including the two Sunday, in the past two and a half weeks. The first occurred Jan. 27 and two others occurred Feb. 5.

Stafford said purses were stolen in all five instances. He also said the same MO was used in all five crimes: while a person is pumping gas, the suspect drives up next to the passenger door, stays low, opens the vehicle door, takes the purse and drives away.

While Stafford said it’s unclear if the same suspect was involved in all five crimes, which are felony entering autos, he said DPD believes the two that happened Sunday were done by the same suspect.

“The way that they went about it is they jumped out of their car, jumped into the other car, grabbed the purse, got back in and left,” Stafford said. “Exact same thing happens (both times), it’s also a silver SUV. So we feel pretty confident that’s the same individual.”

The first incident Sunday happened at Murphy Oil at Walmart on Thornton Road at 10:30 a.m. Surveillance video provided by police shows it took just 20 seconds for the suspect to pull up, commit the crime and escape.

The second incident Sunday happened at the RaceTrac on Highway 5. The victim in that incident called 911 with a description of the vehicle, which led to the chase when Sgt. Adam Haney spotted the vehicle on Interstate 20 near Fairburn Road.

Maj. J.R. Davidson said speeds reached up to 130 mph. Haney had help from fellow DPD officers and sheriff’s deputies, but the chase was ultimately called off around I-285 due to safety concerns, Stafford said.

Stafford said Haney is a patrol shift supervisor and that protocol is to engage in a chase only when a felony like the entering auto reported Sunday is involved.

As to the other three similar crimes, Stafford said it’s uncertain if they’re related.

“These do not have the same vehicle descriptions,” he said. “ Very similar MOs. And it’s obviously it’s not uncommon for these individuals to steal a car and then go around doing these types of thefts. We can’t be certain that all of these are related but these are similar crimes, the last two of which we feel pretty confident knowing that they’re the same people.”

Stafford said criminals are always looking for new ways to commit thefts. He said the public should be aware these types of crimes are occurring.

“It’s not something you really think about in your daily life,” he said of being robbed while pumping gas. “However, we need to be a little bit more aware. They’re looking for somebody who isn’t paying attention. And if you’re just a little bit more alert when you’re out and about they won’t choose you.”

In the meantime, he said law enforcement will be out in full force trying to get the criminals off the streets and keep them out of Douglas County.

DPD issued a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) Tuesday afternoon asking for the public’s help in finding the suspect or suspects committing the crimes.

The BOLO describes the vehicle used in Sunday’s crimes as a brand new Kia Sorento SUV, grey in color, with a drive-out tag. The suspect wore a blue zip-up hoodie with black sweatpants. The suspect is believed to be female, according to the BOLO.

Anyone who recognizes or can provide details of the suspects is asked to contact Det. Jason Walker at 678-293-1601 or email walkerj@douglasvillega.gov.

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