Bystanders catch purse-snatcher

Employees of Norwalk businesses come to aid of 63-year-old victim.
Cary Ashby
Jan 19, 2013


A homeless purse-snatching suspect was arrested Thursday shortly after employees who work near the crime scene chased down the man and recovered the victim's belongings.

Glenn C. Pratt, 31, must post a $75,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail. He is charged with robbery, a second-degree felony punishable by two to eight years in prison.

Dispatchers received a 9-1-1 call at 11:38 a.m. A Schild's IGA customer reported seeing the incident involving a 63-year-old woman.

Norwalk Police Capt. Mike Conney said the caller was taking his groceries to his car when he noticed Pratt was acting suspiciously.

"It was just his body language made it appear he was stalking (someone)," Conney said.

The 9-1-1 caller reported he was taking his shopping car back to the cart corral when "he saw the guy running away from her (the victim) onto Milan Avenue," he said. Conney said the man stayed in the area and later provided police with "a good description of the guy."

The robbery remains under investigation.

"We're still working on it. We're still gathering statements from witnesses," Conney said.


Seeing suspicious activity

Another person who saw Pratt reportedly acting suspiciously was Crystal Jackson, a stylist with Tammy's Salon of Style, which is across the street from Schild's. Jackson was standing inside the salon near the front desk when she saw the suspect.

"I just sat and watched him a few minutes because he looked like he was really nervous about something," Jackson said.

Jackson said she noticed the victim first because she's "a little old lady" who appeared to be frail. Jackson mentioned to salon owner Tammy Cerilli she suspected Pratt was up to no good.

"I hope he's not going to do what I think he's going to do," Jackson recalled saying. "As soon as I said that, he was running towards her (the victim) and I was running toward the front door. ... The guy moved straight toward her and took her purse."

Jackson said she saw Pratt run between the salon and Pizza Brothers and then saw him stop near the building that houses Advanced Computer Connections (aka ACC Norwalk) and Columbia Gas.

"He was trying to dump the purse at the time," Jackson said.

"I don't think he expected to see me to show up again. ... At that point it was foot race," she said.


The 'foot race'

As Jackson started chasing the suspect, she yelled at several Columbia gas employees who were standing nearby that the man had the victim's purse.

"There was no way I was going to catch him," she said. "They had no idea what was going on."

Sean Steffanni, of ACC Norwalk, was in his office when he heard Jackson yelling. The back door of Tammy's Salon is visible through his window.

Steffanni said he saw Pratt run to the back of the ACC building and three men chasing the suspect.

"Then I saw him run from behind one of the Dumpsters behind ACC," Steffanni said.

"I saw him and took off," said Steffanni, who saw the fleeing suspect reach in the purse for the wallet and then ditch the purse. "I was the one who caught up with him."

Steffanni said he managed to get in front of Pratt and cut him off at the Norwalk VFW parking lot.

"I think he was extremely tired and exhausted. He did not look healthy," Steffanni said. "There was absolutely no contact (with him).

"I asked him for the wallet. I told him he needed to give it to me. He hesitated, but then he did (give it to me)," he said.

Steffanni then retrieved the purse, which was about 20 yards away, and gave it and the wallet to Jackson.

"By the time I got back, everyone was gone," Steffanni said.

Jackson, who saw the suspect acting suspiciously, said Pratt apologized to her as he caught his breath at the VFW.

"That was when he was begging to let him go," she said about the Columbia Gas employees who stood around the suspect.

Pratt fled from the employees after he caught his breath.

Conney was the first officer on the scene. He directed Officer Kevin Schaffer to drive to Cline Street since witnesses reported the suspect was running that direction.

As Conney arrived at the VFW, he said the employees, who again were chasing Pratt, directed him toward the culprit.

"They were still hot on his trail. I could see him at the same time they were seeing him run through this yard," Conney said.

"He tried to hide behind this fence in some undergrowth of brush," said Conney, who chased Pratt on foot for about 15 minutes.

The suspect then told Conney, "I give up."


'I crapped my pants'

"He was all sweaty and couldn't breathe," said Conney, so the suspect wasn't able to provide his name initially.

As Conney and Schaffer discussed what to do next, Conney said Pratt interjected: "I ditched the purse."

"Absolutely everything was recovered -- all of it," Conney added.

The officers had Pratt get on the ground and placed him in handcuffs. That was about the time Conney noticed a terrible smell.

"I crapped my pants," Conney said, quoting Pratt. "He defecated on himself during the chase."

Police brought the suspect to the station. Conney said Pratt declined to fully complete a statement and didn't say why he was in Norwalk.

"He said he (was) homeless. I don't doubt it. His last address was in Vermilion," Conney said.

Officers cleared the scene 31 minutes after the 9-1-1 call.


Giving credit

The victim, who stayed with Cerilli at the salon during the foot pursuit, sent Jackson and Cerilli flowers.

"That was a wonderful gesture," Jackson said.

Conney gave credit to the 9-1-1 caller and Jackson for noticing Pratt.

"That's two people who could see he was not acting normally," said Conney, whose report describes Pratt's behavior as "predatory (in) nature."

"It's good to have people like that taking an active role in protecting their fellow citizens," the police captain said.

Steffanni, who caught up with Pratt and demanded the wallet from him, was humble about what he did.

"I did what everybody else was doing; I just ran faster," Steffanni said.



wow, like u really know? did u live with us? and,fyi, that was the end of our marriage. never saud he didnt hav problems. and, i did try to help him. so, unless u did live with us, u dont know wat u r talking about.


lol, this is mom. of course u will defend ur son. wanna tell everyone about his messed up childhood??


wow you want to go there were are your kids...


his child hood was not bad you can ask anyone in cail what kind of childhood he had. that how dum you are you beleave everything you hear and your old enoght to be his mom. why would you get with someone as old as your own kids.


wow, my kids r with me. thats how dumb u r. and, glenn is the one that told me nd everyone how bad his chilhood was. his childhood was so good that glenn was shipped here to ohio to stay with his aunt nd uncle wen he was 16. wanna continue????


this is really pointless. a mother will always stick up for her kid. i do understand that. but, as a mother, sometimes u need to take the blinders off. make ur child accountable for his or her mistakes. never is a relationship all one sided. i get it how glen would jusustfy all his cheating and in nd outta jail by accuseing me of cheating. thats fine. i been thru worse than u bashing me nd ur son..we dont live in a perfect world nd no one is perfect. but, i did try while with glenn. good luck to u nd glenn


i am glad he didnt hurt anyone. only himself


Well it is sad if he was stealing for food and wish someone could get him some help but probably 9 times out of 10 they are on drugs and probably one of the reasons they are homeless and not hungry for food but drugs.


i have heard he is doing herion. yes, sad! i am happy he did not hurt anyone and, hopefully he will get help nd get out nd b a good, hardworking person, nd drug free. btw, he did hav a good life at one time. ppl make thier choices.


See my post lori


See my post lori


Kinda funny; in the "Blast From the Past" column in today's hard copy of the NR, there's a story about an attempted purse snatching.


I wonder if that person also crapped their pants?


the smell was so bad it fogged the camera lens..


...probably left a smudge when he moved away from the block wall...

hor mone

Crystal Jackson, Sean Steffanni,& Columbia Gas employees you are the story here. Thank you for making Norwalk a better place and showing the decency of some Norwalk folks. At the same time I believe we must question the decency, quality, professionalism, and intent of a publication that emphasized the disgusting slime that are becoming more and more a part of Norwalk. How about a story about the good people here or the victim who had the class to send flowers to the folks that stepped up to help her in appreciation for their efforts and risk they took. It's almost unfathomable to think the Reflect turned this tale of helping your neighbor into a story of a guy that s*** his pants. The pictures should be of the "good guys" The Reflector is in the same class as the scum that are over running Norwalk.


I caint like the rejector no more.




It's pretty sad that all of your comments except this one start with "i caint..." until now. If you want any kind of respect and consideration for anything you post, change your handle and quit posting one liners.

(looks like hor mone/Brock Lee forgot to switch handles this time.)

Estrella Damm



...story of the year


Thank You! To the good people involved - you make this place better!


How does a homeless person post a $75,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail?


...he gets an advance from publishing houses and Hollywood for book and film rights...


My guess is he will not be homeless for awhile.


I feel compelled to comment on this article for some reason.


I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those kids and that pesky dog. Awwww shit people.

Mr. Touchdown

Snatch a purse from a little old lady & get 2 to 8 years in prison & a $75000 bond...Steal multiple 4 wheelers,repaint them,get busted for heroine,flee police,steal drug test from Walmart get 60 days in prison & 4 to 6 months in a halfway house....Priceless!



yogi bear

this gives new meaning to "Oh crap, its the cops!"