Surveillance image of a purse snatching at a Sunoco gas station in Landover, Md. on July 25, 2012
Prince George's County Police are investigating a string of purse snatchings at gas stations. It has happened at least five times since Wednesday.
In each case, the thieves grab the victim's purse through an open passenger window and drive away in a waiting SUV.
One of the incidents was captured by video surveillance cameras. It happened on July 25 just after 6 p.m. at a Sunoco gas station in the 5300 block of Sheriff Road in Landover.
Police responded to a call of a theft from an auto. When they arrived, they learned that the victim just finished pumping gas and was getting into her vehicle when the suspects pulled up alongside her in a black Mercedes SUV. As the driver sat in the Mercedes, the passenger got out, reached inside the victim's vehicle from the passenger side, stole her purse and fled the scene in the waiting Mercedes.
According to police, a purse snatching happened at the same Sunoco a day later at 9:46 a.m.
Two minutes later on Thursday, a purse snatching happened at the Sunoco in the 6300 block of Oxon Hill Road in Oxon Hill.
Later Thursday at around 10:33 a.m., another purse snatching occurred at a Wawa station in the 1400 block of Hampton Park Boulevard in Capitol Heights.
And around 12:36 p.m. Thursday, yet another purse snatching occurred at the Shell gas station in the 5600 block of St. Barnabas Road in Oxon Hill.
Police are investigating a possible connection in the robberies because black SUVs were used as getaway vehicles in several of the crimes.
Police are warning gas station patrons to be on alert.
Alicia Hall, who is traveling with her son back home to Delaware, says she always takes precautions.
"That's common sense," she says. "I'm a woman traveling with my son. I keep all my stuff close to me."
Charlene Nolan, another gas station patron, said, "I take my key out of my ignition and lock my doors, and then when I get in, I lock my doors."
Police say the suspects are picking out targets before driving into the gas stations.
So far, no one has been injured, but police are concerned that could change.
They want anyone with information about the case to call the Prince George's County Police Department's District 3 Investigation Section at (301)772-4911 or Crime Solvers at 1-866-411 TIPS to remain anonymous.