Police: Serial purse snatcher targets women at Suffolk gas stations

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A man in Suffolk is accused of stealing pocketbooks out of cars at gas stations - right in front of his victims.

Authorities say they have a video of Craig Mastandrea, of Ronkonkoma, stealing a woman's purse from a minivan in Nesconset. The video shows a man walk from his pickup truck, crouch down, open an unlocked passenger door and steal the purse off her front seat while she is pumping gas.

Police say since Aug. 24, he repeated the same routine a total of eight times - stealing purses or wallets from women pumping gas. In addition to Nesconset, it happened in Ronkonkoma, Miller Place and in Farmingville.

Mastandrea was arraigned Tuesday in Central Islip on multiple felony charges. According to court documents, he told police when he was arrested that he's currently homeless and has had a "bad heroin habit since 2003." In that statement, Mastandrea allegedly said "I picked women who were gassing their cars because I know they usually have pocketbooks on their car seats…I also didn't want to confront anyone or hurt them."

Attorney Matt Tuohy said his client has been struggling in recent years, but in the past, had a great talent for wood carving.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says incidents like this are a good reminder to never let your guard down.

“Just take a moment, roll up the windows, just lock the door, that's all, put the key in your pocket, and you're good to go,” says Hart.



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