Suspect arrested after months of purse thefts

Authorities say thefts happened at Kent County medical and educational facilities

Undated surveillance images show a suspected purse thief who targeted hospital facilities in Kent County. (Kent County Sheriff Department and Grand Rapids Police Department)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators have arrested the suspect who they say stole credit cards from several medical and educational facilities in Kent County, they said Wednesday.

The woman’s name was not released as of Wednesday afternoon. The Kent County Sheriff’s Department said on Facebook that she was expected to be arraigned Thursday, though it did not say precisely what charges she was expected to face.

The sheriff’s department, Grand Rapids Police Department and Wyoming Department of Public Safety worked together to investigate the thefts.

The sheriff’s department says the suspect managed to steal multiple purses and credit cards. The first theft was reported in October, but investigators said the incidents were still happening this month.

“(The suspect) tends to actually loiter in sort of what we would consider to be like open office areas,” Sgt. Joel Roon of the sheriff’s department said Tuesday.

He said the thief would meander through areas where wouldn’t be uncommon to see patients or other non-employees, and then she’d make her move.

“Search areas, whether it be cabinets or shelving, and actually try to find valuables for taking,” he said.

Authorities say she stole purses from about a half a dozen victims, then used stolen credit cards to buy gift cards at multiple retailers. They aren’t saying how much she got away with using the stolen cards.

Roon says the department typically doesn’t see crimes orchestrated so publicly and without an accomplice.

“This is a fairly bold act to be going in as blatantly as she does,” Roon said.

But she has been difficult to track down. Earlier Tuesday, the sheriff’s department and GRPD asked for the public’s help to find her, posting on Facebook.

“She does appear to be altering her appearance to a certain extent. In some of the photos that we posted today, you can notice a change in hair color, glasses, no glasses,” Roon said.

The medical facilities involved have asked to not be identified.