Woman foils would-be purse snatcher; struggle caught on camera

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- She is a sweet, soft-spoken 71-year old church-going, semi-retired bookkeeper and artist who is not somebody you should mess with.

Phoenix resident Victoria Lansing proved that one Sunday morning in early September when she stopped at the Fry's grocery store on Cave Creek Road near Eighth Street on her way home from church.

A security camera just outside the store's entrance captured the scene as Lansing approached the door only to have a young man suddenly emerge from behind a column and grab her purse.

The violent attack that followed lasted mere seconds, but the videotaped image is startling as Lansing and her young assailant struggled for the purse in an intense tug-of-war.

Lansing is then seen falling hard on the pavement, her young attacker fleeing as other shoppers rush to help.

"He wasn't going to get my purse," Lansing said as she clutched her favorite blue handbag tightly earlier this week.

"I'm a farm girl," she said with a laugh.

The man was not successful in stealing Lansing's purse and fortunately Lansing suffered only bumps and bruises in the assault, but police fear that the would-be purse snatcher may strike again.

Police have now released the store surveillance video in hopes of identifying and capturing the young man who is described as a white male, 18 to 25 years old, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall with a skinny build.

He was wearing what appears to be a rather distinctive light-colored backpack, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Darren Burch, the coordinator of the Valley's Silent Witness Program.

Silent Witness is now offering a reward for information leading to the man's arrest.

If you have any information about the would-be thief, call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377), 1-800-343-TIPS (8477) or 480-TESTIGO (837-8446).