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Luck runs out for alleged purse thief at Lucky Deli

Hodge arrested July 29 after roberries at Fred Meyer, WinCo

An alleged purse snatcher who preyed on women as they transferred their groceries from cart to car was arrested this week, ending two months of robberies at Gresham grocery stores.

Tyler Matthew HodgeTyler Matthew Hodge, 29, of 10625 S.E. 362nd Ave., Boring, was arrested July 27 after police said he committed “yet another daytime robbery of a purse” at the Fred Meyer store at 2496 S.E. Burnside Road.

Police received a call at 11:45 a.m. Monday to come to the Fred Meyer parking lot from a woman who said she her purse was taken from her shopping cart as she was loading the groceries into her car.

The description she provided was consistent with previous thefts at both that Fred Meyer and at the WinCo at 2511 S.E. First St.

At the same time the call went out, Gresham Police Sgt. Rick Wilson was already at the WinCo in anticipation of another purse-snatching. When the call came in, Wilson left WinCo and drove to the Minute Mart at 1555 N.W. Orient Drive in anticipation of Hodge after other purse-snatching victims reported their credit cards being used at the store.

Wilson found Hodge’s car in the parking lot and saw a woman’s purse in the back seat that matched the description of the purse stolen from Fred Meyer.

Hodge was quickly located in the Lucky Deli next to the Minute Mart and was arrested without incident.

A woman who said she was a victim of a June 18 purse snatching said the incident was “startling, to say the least.”

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous but described herself as being “advanced in age,” said she was putting away her groceries when she saw a car slow down next to her, as if to park in a nearby spot.

“He just reached out his window, grabbed my purse and took off,” the woman said, adding she had been carrying more cash than usual to buy Father’s Day presents for her three sons.

The woman said she’s lived in Gresham for 28 years and has never been involved in any kind of incident like this before.

She first alerted the store manager who called an in-store detective, and then the Gresham police arrived.

A week later, the seemingly mundane robbery took an unexpected twist: Police called the woman to say her purse had been found in a trash can with many of her personal belongings inside. Although Hodge allegedly took the woman’s credit cards and cash, he left her address book, check book and cellphone.

Even weirder, the woman said the “good Samaritan” who returned the purse to the Gresham Police Department was none other than Hodge. Police were later able to confirm this detail.

“Was I ever surprised,” the woman said.

The woman said she now warns all her friends about the dangers of leaving a purse unattended for even a second, and an employee from the Fred Meyer chaperones the woman to her car every time she shops.

Police said all of the robberies have followed a similar pattern as this woman described: A man pulls up in his car during the daytime and takes a woman’s purse when she is loading the groceries into her car.

According to Multnomah County, Hodge has not yet entered a plea to the multiple charges, but his case is expected to be heard Aug. 5.