Polk purse snatching caught on camera

Posted at 5:21 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 17:29:04-04

An elderly woman leaving a Lake Wales Walmart over the weekend got robbed in broad daylight when a man came from behind and snatched the purse out of her cart and ran off.

The 77-year-old woman, identified as Rita Nicely, was not injured.

Surveillance video shows the man lurking behind Nicely as she pushed the shopping car with her purse sitting in the front child seat. In an instant, he snatches the purse and runs.

Police identified the man as Brand Mavity. He's seen dashing through the parking lot towards his friend and partner in crime, Brandon Pitts. Investigators said he was supposed to be the lookout man.

From a different angle, surveillance video shows another shopper saw it all happened and attempts to chase down the thieves.

"We had a good Samaritan that apparently was coming from their vehicle and saw it occur and she chased after him. He was a little younger and quicker. He had to dodge her but he kept on going," said Lt. David Black with the Lake Wales Police Department.

Minutes later, Lake Wales police show up and establish a perimeter around the orange grove they ran to.

The police helicopter brought it all to an end quickly.

"Within seconds of him being on scene, he was on top of him and directing the officers to him," Black said.

Lake Wales police get calls like this one all the time at Walmart -- if not purse snatching, it's retail theft, or some disturbance.

In fact this year, they've had a total of 154 calls for service at Walmart on State Road 60 in Lake Wales. That's almost one every day.

Lt. Black admits they spent a lot of time there, but said it ends up helping the agency because most of the people the arrest -- like Mavity and Pitts -- have long rap sheets.

"The more we can get these people off the streets, the less people are victims," he said.

As for this case, police hope the video is powerful enough to teach all shoppers a lesson about keeping your purse on your shoulder or in your hands at all time.

One affective method: Clipping the cart's child safety belt around the purse strap so if a thief tries to grab it, they won't get very far.