The crime prevention officer tells the ladies at the senior citizen condo workshop: "Leave your purse at home if you're just out for a short walk. Tuck a $5 bill in your bra if you've got to have money, but don't give the street predators too much temptation."
The advice is sound, but there are a few things the young officer fails to understand. Most of these ladies do not consider themselves properly dressed unless they have a purse in hand. Some feel downright uncomfortable unless they are wearing white gloves. Old fashioned? Sure, but that's how it is for the generation that grew up during the Great Depression.
That sunny spring day a lady in her seventies strolls along the sidewalk wearing white gloves and a matching handbag. The crime prevention officer would not have approved. She is on her way to the post office, and might even stop at the drugstore for a cherry Coke on the way home.
Walking along the sidewalk, there's an odd sound behind her. A pounding sound. It gets louder, and closer. She realizes it's somebody running up behind her. "A purse snatcher," the old lady thinks in that last instant.
Scared to death, she turns around, giving her purse a wide swing, as she holds the strap tightly with both hands. The kid running up behind her is wearing what cops call "felony shoes," a name used to describe sneakers worn by street predators for rapid pursuit of victims, and quick getaways.
The reporting police officer says the kid "caught the lady's purse right in the chops, then the would-be mugger did a 180-degree flip before coming to rest on the sidewalk on the back of his head."
The suspect, as he is referred to in the police report, is 16 years old and in a coma. The woman is treated at the hospital for hyperventilation and released.
Some people applaud her heroic action. The woman wants no part of being a senior citizen poster girl. Actually, she feels sorry for the kid. He's unconscious for three days. The old woman tells the boy's mother she is sorry. The mother does not accept the apology, but instead threatens to sue for damages.
The press reports the boy has a prior arrest record that includes six similar strong-arm robberies in which four of his victims were hospitalized.
In each of those cases, Juvenile Court turned the kid back over to his mother. There's no father of record.
Nobody except the police mentioned that, in this type of robbery, the force of a purse-snatch usually causes the victim to spin around and fall down, frequently leaving them with broken bones.
Some elderly victims are injured so badly they end up in a wheelchair or a walker for the rest of their life. If the boy succeeded in his robbery attempt, would the old woman have met such a fate? Bleeding hearts never give that possibility a moment's thought.