Video captured the moment a thief swiped a woman’s purse while she was dining outside at a Culver City restaurant.
Police are searching for at least three suspects involved in the coordinated theft.
Officials said the incident happened on May 14 at Akasha where a woman’s purse was stolen from the back of her chair as she was dining.
“It was really upsetting,” said Alan Schulman, co-owner of Akasha. “It’s upsetting and it’s a violation. And on Mother’s Day? Really? Come on.”
Security video shows the victim dining in the restaurant’s front patio with her back facing the sidewalk as her purse hangs on her chair.
As a suspect wearing a dark hoodie approaches the woman, he quickly snatches the hanging purse and sprints away.
“They had just been there for five minutes,” said Schulman. “I don’t think they had a chance to even order yet.”
The woman’s dining partner seated across from her immediately stands up and takes off running after the thief.
“It was like a chase scene,” said Schulman. “It was kind of remarkable.”
The foot chase ended down the block in front of a nearby parking garage.
“A fight ensued over the purse,” said Culver City police. “The victim and the suspect fell to the ground and continued fighting.”
Police said there was a getaway car stopped nearby.
“The passenger inside that getaway vehicle fired one round into the air and all parties scattered,” authorities said.
Schulman was standing near the restaurant’s rear entrance when he heard the shot.
“A group of people came charging in the back door and they’re yelling ‘Gun!’” recalled Schulman.
Officers believe the suspects spotted the woman’s purse on the chair while driving, circled the block, dropped off the thief and then parked around the corner, preparing for the escape.
No one was wounded during the ordeal, but the suspects remain at large.
Police said diners seated at outdoor patios near walkways should always be mindful of where they place their valuables.
“It’s a crime of opportunity,” said Culver City police. “You want to remove that element from that situation and maybe put that purse on the other chair, maybe facing the inside of the restaurant, putting it out of plain view or leaving it in the car or the trunk.”