Gahanna and Columbus police are looking for criminals who are driving past women walking in parking lots and snatching their purses.

Gahanna and Columbus police are looking for criminals who are driving past women walking in parking lots and snatching their purses.

A robbery in which the victim was injured was reported Sept. 14 at the StoneRidge Plaza Kroger store. The other occurred Sept. 21 at Kroger Marketplace, 300 S. Hamilton Road.

Gahanna Police Lt. Tom Basso said the two crimes might not be related because of the differences, but he thinks they probably are.

In the Sept. 14 incident, a Gahanna woman sustained bruises and scratches as a man in a blue van dragged her through the parking lot of the StoneRidge Plaza Kroger.

The 31-year-old woman told police she was walking to her car in the lot, pushing a shopping cart. A blue van pulled up beside her, and a passenger in the van leaned out the window and grabbed her purse, which was on her shoulder, she said.

The driver fled to the east, dragging the woman across the lot. Eventually, the passenger let go of the woman's purse. The van, which might have been a Dodge Caravan or a Ford Windstar, sped off toward Morse and Hamilton roads.

The woman said the would-be robber was a white man, in his mid- to late 30s and with short, dark, curly hair. She said she couldn't see the driver.

Two women who were in the lot at the time ran to the woman to offer assistance.

A week later, a 78-year-old Blacklick woman reported a female driving a blue Jeep Liberty stole her purse from a shopping cart as she loaded her groceries in the lot of Kroger Marketplace, 300 S. Hamilton Road.

The woman was loading at about 12:09 p.m. Sept. 21. She had left her purse in the baby-seat area of her shopping cart.

She described the thief as a white female. A Westerville man walking in the lot said the blue Jeep Liberty went by him as the driver fled.

He described the vehicle and said the woman appeared to be the only person inside the Jeep. He said she was wearing a white windbreaker and had a white scarf around her head.

The woman drove out the shopping-center lot to the west.

The woman said her purse contained $50, a Social Security card and a cellular telephone.

Police said she contacted her daughter to tell her about the robbery, only to find that a man had called the daughter to say he had found her mother's purse along the roadway in the 1500 block of West Broad Street.

Police were unsure of what was left inside the purse when it was recovered.

Gahanna police are working with their Columbus counterparts.

Anyone with information about either of these attempted robberies should call Gahanna police at (614) 342-4240.

gvickers@thisweeknews.com