Purse stolen from car in Westchester leads investigators to nationwide crime ring

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Marcus Solis reports on how a stolen purse led authorities to an elaborate crime ring

The investigation into a purse stolen from a car in Purchase in Westchester County, has led to a nationwide crime ring.

Video shows the theft, and the handbag was then recovered in Queens, but what police also found busted a crime ring wide open.

"This might seem like a routine crime, but these routine crimes cannot be handled routinely," said Chief Anthony Marraccini, of the Harrison Police Department.

And indeed, the investigation that yielded a room's full of evidence started with the theft of one Louis Vuitton handbag.

Two men and a woman are under arrest. Police have names and the suspects say they are from Chile, but authorities still aren't sure.

"What you have is a group of three people from out of the country that are traveling throughout our area and different states breaking into people's cars, stealing identities," Chief Marraccini said.

The investigation started Sunday at a recreation center called the purchase community house.

Surveillance video shows a Chevy suburban circling the lot and finally parking next to the car that was broken into.

What you don't see is the female suspect allegedly standing as a lookout while the men steal the handbag.

"It was bold, for lack of a better word, it was brazen practically! When they got here, people were right next to them in the lot. As soon as those people left, they did their thing and off they went," said Jim Kelly, of Purchase Community House.

The rented car was traced to a motel in Queens, which is where police arrested the three suspects.

Among the recovered items: bogus drivers licenses and passports that may be fraudulent too, $15,000 in cash, $4,000 worth of iTunes cards, counterfeit Starbucks cards, camera equipment, and even baby sneakers.

"They are taking these proceeds and stealing from people and it's very disheartening to see all of this happening," Chief Marraccini said.

The suspects are being held at the Westchester County Jail. The top charge against the suspects is grand larceny, although additional charges are likely.
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