UPDATE 10/25/13 @ 5:45 p.m.
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – Paintsville Police are investigating a series of purse thefts outside of two day care centers in town. They say in at least some of the cases, the cars were left unlocked.
One woman whose purse was stolen told WSAZ.com that she was dropping her daughter off at day care and went inside the building for two minutes. When she came back and got in her car to drive to work, she noticed her purse was missing and quickly called to cancel her credit cards. Police say it’s crucial to lock your doors at all times, no matter how long you’re leaving the car.
“It takes 20 seconds for somebody to get in your car and get your stuff. Lock your doors,” Patrolman Jerry Wiley of the Paintsville Police Department said. “If you're going to be gone 10 seconds, lock your doors.”
Kimberly Osborne-Webb met friends for lunch at a restaurant around the corner from the day car center where four of the thefts were reported. She said one of her children attended that day care and that locking the door for the couple of minutes she was dropping her son off was never a habit.
“I did today. I usually do if I'm going in for an extended period of time,” Osborne-Webb said. “But running in to pay for gas, dropping your kid off at day care – it's just not something you usually do.”
She added that sometimes mothers are in a rush as they drop their children off at day care and don’t have time to stop and lock their cars.
“It's just so frustrating to think that you can't even take your child inside to the day care without worrying about your stuff,” Osborne-Webb said. “I guess just take the extra minute, take the time to lock your car and make sure your stuff's put up to where they can't see it.”
Tonya Bartley works just down the street from both day care centers and says she always locks her car and keeps it where she can see it at work.
“When I was younger, I did have a vehicle broke into and I learned from that, so I just take my purse with me at all times,” Bartley said.
Police say Bartley’s approach, taking valuables with her, is an important tip. Another one, police say, is not to put any valuables in your car at all.
“Anything of value, stereos, anything. I mean, it takes a matter of seconds to take it out. Just lock your car, park it in a secure place and don't leave it unlocked,” Wiley said.
Police also say if you’re out and about in a busy area, you should leave your purse at home and only carry identification or money in a wallet. They also encourage people to walk in busy, well-lit areas to avoid purse snatchers.
Police are continuing to investigate but say they have a person of interest in these burglaries.
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They say they believe the thief is targeting women dropping off their children at day care.
Police say a purse was stolen from a car parked at a daycare on Depot Road in Paintsville Tuesday morning.
Police Chief Steve Sluss says right around the corner from where the incident happened Tuesday, there is another daycare center, where four other incidents have been reported.
Police believe someone is watching the parking lots, and waiting for the women to take the kids inside.
"Ladies leaving their purses in the vehicle and it unlocked apparently long enough to drop off their children, and the same incident...someone comes by sees the door unlocked and grabs the purse, and takes off," says Sluss.
Police say it only takes a matter of seconds for thieves to take a purse. Officers suggest using caution, no matter how long you are away from your car.
"First off, lock your doors," says Officer Jerry Wiley. "If you have something valuable put it in your trunk or hide it under something in the car. If you can don't leave it in your car...especially this time of year around the holidays, we have a lot of break-ins."
Police say they do have a person of interest, but are continuing to investigate.
If you have any information, or have surveillance cameras in the area that may have caught the thefts, call Paintsville Police at 606-789-4221.