Woman doused with substance; purse stolen in ‘diversionary theft scheme’ in Lawrence

Police are looking for two men who allegedly teamed up to distract a woman and snatched her purse from her car in the Mercer Mall parking lot, according to the Lawrence Township Police Department.

The victim told police she went to the Bank of America branch at the Mercer Mall and then went to the nearby Ross Dress for Less store on July 25.

As she walked to the store, she noticed a Hispanic male sitting outside the store, police said.

The woman entered the store and noticed the same man allegedly passed her several times while she was shopping, police said.

The woman left the store and as she drove away noticed her low tire pressure warning light had come on, police said.

The same Hispanic man she had noticed in the store would have flagged her down in the parking lot. He allegedly told her his car had a flat tire, police said.

The man reportedly offered to help fix the flat tire, police said. He picked up a can of Fix-a-Flat from a green SUV that had pulled up next to his car. He then allegedly asked her to help connect the box of Fix-a-Flat to his tire, police said.

As she bent down to help, the man allegedly squirted the contents of the box in her face, police said. As she wiped the spray from her face, the man climbed into the passenger seat of the green SUV, which drove off, police said.

When the woman got back into her car, she noticed her purse was missing, police said. At that point, she realized she might have been the victim of a diversionary robbery scheme and reported it to the police.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male between the ages of 35 and 40. He is about 5ft 3in tall and wore a white hat and reading glasses. There is no description of the driver of the green SUV, which had Pennsylvania license plates.

Anyone with information should contact Lawrence Police Detective Ryan Dunn at 609-844-7125 or [email protected]

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