Gloria — a 71-year-old Brownwood woman who asked that her last name not be used in a Bulletin article — offered some wry humor Tuesday about the arrests of two people in connection with the thefts of two purses on Monday.
"I hope they enjoy (being in jail). I hope they have a baloney sandwich — dry. I hope they have to wear pink underwear," Gloria said.
One of those stolen purses is Gloria's, and the other belongs to a 70-year-old woman. Both purses were stolen from shopping carts a few hours apart as the women loaded groceries into their cars, Brownwood police said.
William McCaslin, 42, and Karly Cogburn, 18, both of Brownwood, were booked into the Brown County Jail on two charges each of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information. Each suspect remained jailed Tuesday afternoon in lieu of bonds totaling $40,000.
Police recovered both purses. Gloria's purse was missing $44, but other possession including family photos were still in the purse. "How can you replace photos of your great-grandchildren when they were infants?" Gloria asked as she described her relief at getting the photos back.
Reports by officers Brandon Miller and Joe Thomas describe the thefts and the arrests of the two suspects.
Monday afternoon, Thomas was dispatched to the Wal-Mart parking lot, where a woman identified as Gloria said she'd been putting groceries into her car. Her purse was still in her shopping cart. In an interview with the Bulletin, Gloria said she was suspicious when she saw a red car with a man and a young woman inside cruising up and down the park lot aisles without stopping — until it reached her.
The woman got out of the car and approached Gloria and asked for directions to a street. She then asked if Gloria could just give the directions to the man in the red car, and Gloria approached the car to do so.
The young woman remained behind Gloria, and after Gloria finished giving the man directions, the woman "jumped into the car and the male quickly drove away," Thomas' report states. Gloria then noticed that her purse was gone from the shopping cart.
Gloria — initially speaking to the Bulletin Monday afternoon, before the suspects had been arrested — said she blamed herself for "my own stupidity … I'm hoping that they do catch them and I'm also hoping that they give me five minutes with them."
Gloria said she should have heeded her suspicions when she saw the car cruising up and down the parking lot.
Miller's report described the next sequence of events.
Miller was dispatched Monday evening to Wal-Mart, where another victim — the 70-year-old woman — reported that a young woman had just taken her purse while the victim loaded groceries into her car. Just as in the earlier theft, the victim's purse had been in her shopping cart.
The victim saw the woman grab her purse and get into the passenger side of a nearby red car, which had a male driver. She was able to get what she believed to be the last four digits of the license plate.
Officer Brandon Johnson arrived, and the two officers began working together. Johnson was aware of the theft of Gloria's purse earlier that day. Wal-Mart management was able to provide surveillance video of the theft that had just occurred.
Seeing that the red car was a Chevrolet Beretta, Miller began traveling to check other grocery stores to see if the suspects were going to commit or attempt other thefts. En route to Kroger, Miller passed a red Beretta, occupied by a man and a woman, in the 100 block of North Main. The license plate's last four digits nearly matched what the victim had provided.
Miller stopped the car, and he and Sgt. Troy Carroll, who had arrived at the stop, approached the Beretta. Miller had the woman step out, read the Miranda warning and began asking about the theft. The woman initially denied the theft but then "eventually admitted to taking a female's purse from a shopping basket … she told me that she was needing money and cigarettes," Miller's report states.
The woman said she had told her male companion, "that looks easy," referring to the 70-year-old victim. The male replied "let's do it," Miller's report states, quoting the woman.
She said they'd taken $5 from the purse, spent it on fuel and thrown the purse into a trash can at the Coggin Avenue Car Wash. Carroll drove there and retrieved the purse.
Miller began speaking with the man in the Beretta, who said he'd just gotten laid off and that he and the woman were "hard up." The man told Miller he "went along with the deal."
At the Brown County Jail, Miller spoke again with the man and the woman and asked them about the earlier theft of Gloria's purse. The woman said the two had been responsible for the theft of Gloria's purse. She said she'd seen Gloria walking to her vehicle and thought "Let's go for it."
If they'd just asked
Gloria learned Monday night that police had recovered her purse and arrested the two suspects.
"I'm ecstatic that they're in jail," Gloria said. " … I'm just glad they were dumb enough to try it again (Monday) night. I hope they got a better night's sleep than I did. Bless their hearts."
Gloria said if the two had just asked her for money, she would have given them some.
But they took her purse, and along with it, "my sense of being willing to help."
Moments later, Gloria relented, saying her mother had raised her to believe "if you cast your bread upon the water," it will return. She'll probably still be willing to help people, Gloria said.
But the incident should serve as a warning "for people to pay attention," Gloria said.