Renton police: Help us identify this suspected serial purse thief

A suspected purse thief is seen in a screenshot from surveillance video on Dec. 18, 2018. (Photo credit: Renton Police Dept.)

RENTON, Wash. - Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a serial purse thief who targets older women as they shop for groceries.

The same man is suspected in at least three thefts between early November and mid-December, all with a similar modus operandi.

In the most recent case, on Dec. 18, the suspect followed a 91-year-old woman around the downtown Renton Safeway store while waiting for an opportunity to steal her wallet from her shopping basket, police said.

As the woman reached into a dairy cooler, the suspect sneaked in and stole her wallet from the basket. He then proceeded to use her checkbook to write checks, according to police.

The man is also suspected of similar thefts, targeting a 73-year-old woman on Dec. 6 at a Burien Safeway store and a 75-year-old woman in early November at the Safeway store on NE 4th Street in Renton.

The suspect is described as a white male in his late 40s or 50s. He has a distinctive tattoo on his right hand.

Anyone who recognizes the man or who has information that might be useful in the investigation is urged to call Detective Coleman of the Renton police at 425-430-7538 or email him at mcoleman@rentonwa.gov and reference Case No. 18-15647.

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