Story by Megan BoatwrightEyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A purse-snatching and police chase has prompted local authorities to issue a warning to holiday shoppers.
Two women told police Rodney Bates was looking to rob someone when the trio went to Target on 153 Friday.
Police say he took a purse, jumped into their car and told them to drive.
A short time later, Bates instructed the driver to pull over so he could drive.
An officer spotted the car and Bates led them on a short chase before crashing the car.
Bates faces a list of charges.
That incident brings up a topic police always bring to attention during the holiday season: shopper safety.
The victim, who lost her purse Friday, tells channel 3 she had just stepped out of her car, felt a light brush on her shoulder and her purse was gone.
That's why Chattanooga Police are asking shoppers to keep a tight grip on your personal items at all times.
"He just apparently saw her as an easy target and grabbed her purse and took off," says Rebecca Royval, spokesperson for the Chattanooga Police Department.
Chattanooga Police say 19-year-old Rodney Bates was taking advantage of the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, when he robbed a woman in the Highway 153 Target parking lot Friday afternoon.
Other shoppers are taking note.
"You're not as aware of where everybody is, you just know that someone's behind you at all times," says Kim Gouge, shopper.
Like thousands of others, Kim Gouge hit the stores in search of Black Friday deals.
"Especially at Black Friday, people are thinking what they're going to get, what they're going to grab next, they're not thinking where's my purse," says Gouge.
But you should, that's why Chattanooga Police are encouraging shoppers to be practical this holiday season.
"For woman, especially, just don't carry a purse," says Royval.
Officer Rebecca Royval says leaving the purse behind isn't such a bad idea.
"You can put your cash and your credit cars in your pocket. That's just one less thing to worry about," says Royval.
But if the plan is to leave your purse in the car, be careful where.
"Put them in the trunk. If you put them in the backseat, you're just asking for someone to break into your car," says Royval.
Another good tip is don't shop alone. Channel 3 talked to the victim of Friday's purse snatcher on the phone.
She says she was walking inside the store with her two daughters when her purse was taken in broad daylight.
"There's always people out there looking for someone to victimize, especially when there's a lot of shoppers out," says Royval.
That victim did get her purse back, minus her wallet and a few other items inside.
Police found it in the backseat of Bates' car.
Another safety tip is always keep your purse zipped up. If you going to set it down in the shopping cart, put it under the child seat where it can't be easily grabbed.
If you're traveling over Thanksgiving, you'll have even more company than last year.
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
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