DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Beach police said a trio of juveniles had been targeting unsuspecting tourists on the Daytona Beach Boardwalk until police stopped the alleged thieves by tracking down all three and arresting them.
Patrol Officer Edward Rapoano said several months ago, police took their first report of three young men stealing a purse from a woman sitting on a boardwalk bench.
Rapoano said when it happened again several weeks later, officers were ready.
"My first instinct when I got the call was to come up to an alleyway between the hotels," Rapoano said. "I figured they probably cut through here like they did a month prior."
Rapoano was right.
Surveillance video from a boardwalk camera showed the woman sitting on the bench while three teenagers strolled by, one stopping to grab her purse. She fought back for a second and then stood up to record the men on her cellphone as they ran north on the boardwalk and toward the alley.
Rapoano said when the call went out over the radio, all officers in the area, including the deputy chief, responded.
Several officers came with their K-9's.
Body camera footage showed one K-9 officer running through backyards, searching for the teens.
The K-9 eventually focused on a tall garbage can, barking and pawing at the can until a head popped out. Police said one of the teenage snatchers chose the can as a hiding place.
Rapoano helped catch the other two teens and officers even found the woman's purse and returned it to her.
"She was ecstatic, all of her stuff was in there, her phone, wallet, cash," Rapoano said. "Everything she had down here was in there. We got down here as fast as we could and we got her results within hours."
The teens, as young as 15, are all facing robbery charges in connection with the purse snatchings.