Purse snatching turns violent

OKEECHOBEE – An elderly woman was injured Thursday night, Dec. 6, at approximately 10:30 p.m. after her purse was stolen while she was sitting in a booth at McDonald’s on State Road 70.

According to the video surveillance, the victim chased the suspect out of the restaurant and tried to stop him from driving away by opening his car door, but he backed up, leaving his door open, and hit her with the door as he was backing out. The woman was knocked to the ground. In the video, she does not get up again.
She was transported to the hospital, and has been treated and released.

According to Detective James Pickering of the Okeechobee Police Department, a concerned citizen found the victim’s wallet on the side of U.S. 441 North on Friday morning and called police. Investigators found the victim’s cell phone and car keys along the highway between Buxton Funeral Home and the railroad tracks and returned them to the victim’s husband.

Detective Pickering said they were able to take the video footage from McDonald’s and cut it down to just the few moments showing the suspect entering, committing the crime and leaving, and then put the video on Facebook asking for the help of the public in identifying the man who committed the crime. Almost immediately they were contacted by another company which had video of this person doing business. Officer Cesar Romero went to the business on Saturday morning to view the video and confirmed it was him. He was wearing the same clothing including the hat. This video had the tag number of his car, and soon they had identified him as Charles Alton Stratton Jr., 50, of State Road 70 West.

Detective Pickering explained that at approximately the same time, the suspect was at the Volusia County substation turning himself in, and Detective Pickering went to pick him up. The suspect reportedly came back willingly and confessed not only to that crime but also to a similar crime at Winn Dixie earlier in the week.

The suspect claims to have turned himself in because his sister told him to. He said she told him he was all over Facebook, and he “needed to make it right.”

Stratton reportedly said he did not plan to rob anyone. He went out to get food, and he was out of money. He went in and got a sandwich from a manager, saw two women sitting in a booth and just decided he would steal her purse.

Stratton

Detective Pickering said they have been receiving calls from all over the country inquiring about the victim’s health, and although she did suffer a concussion, she is now out of the hospital. The Okeechobee Police Department would like to thank the public and McDonald’s Corporation for their help. Detective Pickering said if not for all the help they received, finding the suspect would have taken a lot longer.

Stratton was charged with unarmed robbery sudden snatching for the Winn Dixie attempt, grand theft for stealing the purse and cell phone, unarmed robbery sudden snatching for the purse snatching at McDonald’s and battery with a deadly weapon for hitting the woman with the car. Bond will be set by the judge.

The investigation is ongoing.

The video is online at:

https://wsvn.com/news/local/man-caught-on-camera-snatching-purse-at-mcdonalds-in-okeechobee/?fbclid=IwAR0Db2mpQ0DDUlwoT8Wtjgm0feEhtCqQs1aiKvSLCfAJcduhOeIgEPYQzwg

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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