Columbia police are looking for a man they think is connected with three robberies and an attempted robbery reported Tuesday.
The four incidents took place over a seven-hour span, beginning at 9:53 a.m. at Hitt and Locust streets and ending in the parking lot of Schnucks Supermarket, 1400 Forum Blvd. Police said the crimes appear to have been committed by the same individual, and the case has been turned over to the Major Crimes Unit of the Columbia Police Department.
“We’re dealing with a one-man crime spree,” Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson said
Nelson added that police have several leads and are confident that the suspect will be apprehended.
In each case, the robber tried to take a woman’s purse. He did not show a weapon, police said.
The first incident occurred as a 59-year-old woman was walking east on Locust Street. She was approached from behind and struck on the arm, causing her wallet to fall from her purse, police said. The man picked up the wallet and fled on foot. The woman did not report any injuries.
At 11:56 a.m. in the parking lot at 610 N. Eighth St., the man grabbed an 18-year-old woman’s purse and ran south from the area, police said. Nearly 30 minutes later, the robber approached a 38-year-old woman in the parking lot of the Columbia Mall. He grabbed her purse, but she held on and was thrown to the ground, where she hit her head. Police said the man did not get away with the purse. The woman was treated for a minor injury at a local hospital and released.
Police said the man struck for the fourth time three hours later, stealing a woman’s purse in the grocery store parking lot at 3:38 p.m. Once again, he ran away.
Police described the suspect as a 5-foot-10-inch male with a thin build.
Sgt. Steve Monticelli of the Major Crimes Unit said police are not sure whether the suspect is traveling on foot or had a car parked somewhere near the robbery sites.
Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 875-8477.