2 arrested in attempted purse snatching may be linked to other crimes

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Two people have been arrested in an attempted purse snatching at an Acme store in Northeast Philadelphia. And now police are trying to connect the pair to similar crimes in the area.

Thirty-three-year-old Justin Pope and 33-year-old Tiffany Groves are facing multiple charges, including theft-unlawful taking, theft-receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy and retail theft.

A young man and woman have been captured on surveillance at several stores, but police say these two are not your average customers. Instead of shopping for groceries, investigators say they are scoping out the place, looking to snatch purses.

"Oh my goodness, it leaves me speechless. Like I'm scared to get out of my car now. I'm scared with my purse. Leave my purse in the car, and put it in the trunk," said Leslie Galarza of Northeast Philadelphia.

Ironically, in each case, the suspects are wearing the same clothes.

Thursday night came a possible break in this case.

Police say a man and woman fitting the description of the suspects and their getaway car, tried to snatch a purse from an Acme store in Northeast Philadelphia. In a strange twist, an officer that just happened to be in the store, recognized the pair.

"When the officer walked in, he recognized them from the news coverage. He acted like he didn't see them, went back out and got his partner, and wanted to make sure it was them. Waited to see what car they got in to see if it matched the video he had seen on the news, and at that time they stopped the vehicle," said Philadelphia Police Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum.

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Police say an 84-year-old woman was shopping at a Giant Supermarket in Northeast Philadelphia when she was targeted by a pair looking to steal her purse.

Police are trying to determine if the suspects are connected to other cases, but are confident they are responsible for stealing a purse from an 84-year old woman at a Giant Supermarket in Northeast Philadelphia on Nov. 11.

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Tredyffrin Township police say a couple swiped a woman's diaper bag while she was shopping with her 17-month-old baby at an Acme in Paoli.

Hatfield police believe the suspects are also responsible for snatching a purse inside of a ShopRite on the same day. Again, the two in question, match images from other crimes. In another incident, police say a duo matching the same description, stole a woman's diaper bag while she was shopping with her 17-month old baby at an Acme in Paoli on Nov. 16.

"We have two other cases. We have been in contact with other jurisdictions. There's also other divisions in the city that have cases that we're putting together now so there is going to be more charges, not only from Philadelphia, but probably from the outlying suburbs," said Lt. Rosenbaum.

When we asked why it appears the suspects are wearing the same clothes in each of the cases, detectives said because they did not know their images were being plastered all across TV.
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