Police arrest suspect in 20 purse snatchings

San Jose police announced Tuesday that they have arrested a suspect in 20 purse snatchings that started in November and targeted mainly older Vietnamese shoppers as they returned to their vehicles.

A police surveillance operation at about 10 a.m. Saturday allegedly showed Thao Minh Luong entering the parking lot at Senter Foods at 3975 Senter Road.

Luong drove slowly around the parking lot a number of times until he stopped next to a 67-year-old woman, according to police.

The woman was putting groceries into her vehicle and Luong allegedly took her purse after she put it into her vehicle. He did not injure the woman, police said.

Luong went to another parking lot nearby and was allegedly getting rid of the stolen property when detectives arrested him.

Police said they found stolen property in Luong's vehicle and in a motel room he was renting. Investigators believe some of the property was taken in other robberies.

In other cases, Luong would allegedly come up to the victim from behind and rip away the purse, according to police.

In one incident, Luong allegedly punched a 67-year-old woman who did not release her purse quick enough. In other cases, he would take the purse after the victim placed it in their vehicle and then fled in a vehicle, police said.

Luong may have had an accomplice in the robberies, police said.

Anyone with information about the cases is being asked to call Detective Michael Villanueva or Detective Juan Hernandez of the Police Department's robbery unit at (408) 277-4166.

Anonymous callers can call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (408) 947-STOP.

People who provide information that leads to an arrest and conviction of a suspect may receive a cash award from Crime Stoppers.