iPhone app solves purse snatching

11:32 PM, Oct 13, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - It had been a long but enjoyable night for Joyce Haskell at the Thunder Valley Casino and now it was a little after five in the morning.  Joyce was sitting at a slot machine, her purse leaning up against her in the seat.

"Next thing I knew," she said, "I saw out of the corner of my eye this blur of movement and this guy came running and I mean at a dead run!"

Before she could react, he had grabbed her purse and was headed to the door.  But Joyce was immediately off the stool and running after him, yelling at the top of her lungs.

"I said, he's stealing my purse, stop him!  Stop him!  Somebody help!"

But nobody did.

"And people were sitting at their machines and I saw men out of the corner of my eyes and they were kind of sitting there not doing anything and nobody would help.  So, I'm chasing this guy through the casino and out the doors and I'm still yelling:  Stop!  Stop!  He's stealing my purse!"

Outside in the parking lot, Joyce spotted him getting into a car.  She ran up to the car to discover the windows were down, so she reached inside and grabbed her purse but he had hold of it as well the whole time he was trying to start the car.

"I'm yelling at him now because I'm thinking my purse is lost...so I started screaming at him, just give me my car keys because, I thought, I have no way to get home!"

Instead, he got the car in gear and lurched away, knocking Joyce to the ground.  The first thing casino security asked Joyce is what she had in the purse and then it occured to her.

"And I said, well I have an iPhone and I have an app on it that is called "find my phone" and it is like a GPS tracker."

"Which," said Sgt. Andrew Pettit of the Sacramento Police Department, "allowed us to track him to the area of Marconi and 80."

The suspect led officers on a high speed chase sometimes reaching speeds near 100 mph.  At some point he must have realized it was the phone that had given away his location.

"During the pursuit, he got wise," Sgt Pettit said, "threw out the iPhone during the pursuit but we have recovered that."

The suspect, identified as 38 year old Jesus Arturo Gutierrez, finally crashed the car attempting to go the wrong way up the on ramp at Riverside Boulevard.  He tried to flee, police said, but was caught by a canine unit from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department.

Joyce got her purse back with all its contents, including the iPhone.  It still works, she said, except for the camera.

by Jonathan Mumm jmumm@news10.net



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