Police: Robbery suspect attacks woman, 81, helping church

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 06:34PM
Search for robbery suspect who attacked woman. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on April 19.

LOGAN - Philadelphia police are trying to track down a man who attacked an 81-year-old woman in broad daylight, trying to take her purse.

New SEPTA photos released Wednesday show the suspect traveling about the city on public transportation: on a bus, on a concourse, and going through a turnstile.

Police believe he's the man who targeted, attacked, and robbed the 81-year-old woman on March 20th.

"It's predatory. It's alarming. If he could do this to an 81-year-old woman, he's capable of doing anything to anyone," Philadelphia Police Lt. Dan Brooks said.

Around 3:15 p.m., the victim exited the "H" bus and started walking north on the 8400 block of Thouron in the Cedarbrook section of the city. It was the second of two buses she'd taken to pick up money orders for her church. A car pulled up alongside her.

"A male exited the rear passenger side of the vehicle. He immediately approached her and he grabbed her handbag," Brooks said.

They struggled. The strap broke and the man ran back to the getaway car, but the driver ordered him to return to the victim.

"And he punches her one time in the left side of her face. Once he punches her in the face, he is able to get the bag which contained cash, bank cards, the money orders that she'd taken two buses to get and a prayer booklet and paraphernalia from her church," Brooks said.

Police believe the suspect first noticed the victim on the bus, followed her off, and somehow summoned a friend with a car to help him continue to follow the victim and then escape.

Police need help identifying him before another elderly victim becomes a target.

"This is an incident where he physically struck an 81-year-old woman doing work for a church. We're asking for the public's assistance in identifying this male," Brooks said.

The victim tells Action News she's doing OK. She was most upset about losing her treasured prayer booklet and items both for and from her church.

If you can identify the man in the photos, contact Northwest Detectives.
Send a breaking news alert
Report a correction or typo
Learn more about the 6abc apps
(Copyright ©2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)