Docs: Portland purse snatcher stalked victims first

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by Cornelius Swart, KGW.com Staff

KREM.com

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 15 at 8:01 PM

PORTLAND ---Court documents obtained by KGW Wednesday describe the suspect in the January mugging of an 89-year-old woman as a serial purse-snatcher, who at times, followed women home from the store in order to steal from them.

Tiffany Denise Smith, 33, was arrested Jan. 14 for mugging an 89-year-old woman. Police also connected Smith to a December incident in which she allegedly pushed her way past a 90-year-old woman, went into the woman’s home, and stole a purse.

Smith was also arrested on prostitution charges in 2013 when she allegedly had sex with an Oregon State Trooper. The trooper eventually resigned. Smith never made her court appearance.

More: Jail for OSP detective caught with prostitute

Smith was arraigned in Multnomah County Court Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of theft, robbery, assault, identity theft, burglary in connection with two purse-snatching incidents.

In the first case, police responded to a call on Dec. 11 at the home of a 90-year-old woman who had her purse stolen. The victim said she returned from shopping when Smith knocked on her door and asked to use the phone. The woman refused and Smith pushed past her, almost knocking her to the ground, and made a "bee-line" for the dining room table. Smith then stole a purse, ran out of the house and drove off in a car that was waiting for her, documents say.

That woman was called by her bank about two strange charges, one at Wal-Mart, one at Redbox, made on her card.

Security camera images placed Smith at the same time and location where the victim was shopping.

Later, other camera images showed Smith attempting to make a $50 purchase with the woman's bank card at the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer.

On Jan. 7, according to police, a woman KGW will only identify as Marge, 89, was mugged by Smith, after Smith followed Marge home from Fred Meyer.

As Marge pulled up to her Southeast Portland home, Smith allegedly parked in front of the victim and approached her. Smith then grabbed her purse and pulled it so hard Marge fell to the ground, hitting her head, documents say.

More: Victim, 89, grateful mugging suspect caught

After the attack, while Marge was being interviewed by police, she received a call from her bank telling her three charges had been made on her card at a Portland Fred Meyer.

Surveillance images, taken at Fred Meyer earlier that day, placed Smith at the same store that Marge had been shopping at. Images showed Smith following Marge out the door of the store, documents say.

Police noticed similarities in the security images from the December and January incidents and made up an ‘Attempt to Identify’ flyer for distribution among other officers.

Detectives were then informed of a third incident at a Clackamas County Fred Meyer on Jan. 9. Witnesses said a woman stole a purse while inside the store, then drove off, according to court documents.

Witness Michael Harding followed the suspect with his car. The woman stopped her car and confronted Harding asking why he was following her.

Harding stated, because she had stolen a purse. The woman then drove off and threw the purse out her window, according to court documents.

Eventually a police officer recognized the Smith's photo in the 'Attempt to Identify' flyer and went to Smith’s last known address. The officer saw Smith leave the home and she was then arrested.

 

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