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.


Paranoid Illusion

It is time to arm the elderly!!


Imagine. A crime was actually stopped without using a gun. I thought the NRA told us that is wasn't possible to stop crimes without massive amounts of weapons by the public. I'm glad the "citizen heroes" chased this guy instead of pulling out a gun and shooting him or more likely, an innocent bystander. Jackson and the Columbia gas guys deserve a lot of credit for doing the right thing AND doing it the right way so no one was injued.


jas writes:

"I thought the NRA told us that is wasn't possible to stop crimes without massive amounts of weapons by the public."

Reads more like the kind of misinformed blather that the Progressive gun grabbers want to foster.

Demagogues tend to rely on enemies and strawmen to promote their collectivist agendas.


strawman argument is right lol


That was the dumbest remark.. You are so absent minded. But since you brought up something that had absolutely nothing to do with the article. If i was chasing him or someone else with a ccw permit and caught him, and circled him. He would NOT have tried to run again and escape as per article.. He would have just stayed put the first time.


My point is and will always be that crime can be stopped without the use of guns. The police know this. That's why they are more often using tasers and peeper spray to subdue suspects. More and more guns does nothing to prevent crime. That's a fallacy created by the NRA. It simply isn't true and there is nothing to prove it. Anecdotal examples are not proof. You have to look at the big picture.

The citizen heroes did exactly the right thing in this case by chasing the guy down. If somebody had a gun, either one of the citizens or the suspect, it's just as likely that an innocent person would have been shot as it is that only the suspect would have been shot. Furthermore, shooting a fleeing purse snatcher is not a penalty that fits the crime.


Tell that to the 2 1/2 million that use their guns per year to stop criminals.
That did not come from an NRA study but a professor who originally started studying how gun control reduces crime. The study showed the exact opposite and he went ahead and published the data. I think his last name is Lott but do not have his book with me right now.


wasn't remarking to you, but to contago. but after reading your remark to me. I am convinced you are among the ones who try and preach others that the only allowed way someone can defend themselves is if cornered and then only then are they allowed to strike back, but if at any time one is able to get away, they should and run and tell authorities. I am CONVINCE you and many like you feel this is the true order of life.. I got news for you, There is many who WILL and feel acceptable that is... you take something of mine, wish to harm me or mine Not only will i catch or stop you. I will finish it to the best of my ability, then and only then when the dust settles, call out for the authories. Moral of my story. Not everyone needs or wants an nanny nation.


jas met his/her objective: troll out a gun control debate in an article absent a weapon.

Long Duck Dong's picture
Long Duck Dong

I'd like to know if it was the Columbia Gas guys or Captain Conney that scared the crap out of him?


Jas, the people who stopped this criminal did the right thing and if things like that happened more often we'd have a better society
As to your accusation that someone couldn't hit their target is biased at best.
Should someone pulled a gun on the crook he'd have crapped his pants before getting his hands up.
Those of us that would carry have to asses the situation and act accordingly


First of all the NRA did not say it wasn't possible to stop crime without guns. Their point is this take away the guns from law abiding citizens so criminals have (because they are criminals after all) them and how are we to protect ourselves. No I'm not saying that a gun is always necessary all the time and thankfully no one was hurt, but what if he would of had a gun? Then what? Next it will be a ban on knifes! Shit how about bow and arrows to. The NRA doesn't want a shoot out blood bath the NRA just wants to protect the rights that were giving to the people when the constitution was signed main focus 2nd amendment the right to keep and bare arms! The government can have my gun when he takes it from my cold dead body!


...if we apply the benefit of the doubt ...maybe he was desperately trying to find a couple of tabs of immodium in her purse ...


"I crapped my pants," Conney said


lol...thats so gross!


I would crap my pants, too!

David Deerest.

OOPS!!! I crapped my pants.


They ran the CRAP out of him, GOOD

hor mone

I cain't run no more.

Whiskey Tango F...

too bad nobody beat "the crap" out of him. Or shot "the crap" out of him. Enough is enough, we can stop this and we need to.


Let this be a lesson and reminder to all potential vagrant purse-snatchers:

Go "number two" before committing the crime.

jack langhals

Or wear depends !

TheGravyWhisperer have the right to remain silent, you have the right to one (1) fresh, standard pair of prison issue boxer shorts...

Swamp Fox

At least in Norwalk people are willing to get involved, good job to these citizens..


i don't condone what he did but consider..a homeless man sleeping in the freezing weather and little food vs sleeping in warmth and having food albeit jail...time for purse snatching can't be that great in this county as people who have committed more serious crimes have gotten away with very little time for their crimes. but the real benefit is that he will have a toilet and toilet paper!!!


...and... don't forget the incessant taunting he'll get from the other inmates... nicknames that will stick to him for life!


Glenn "Stinky" Pratt?


...yes ...exactly, just that sort of thing ;)


i am glenns wife. well, legally. we hav been seperapted for 5 yrs. i just want to say this, glenn had a good life guess the other woman kicked him out. i hope he does get the help he needs. he isnt the person i was with for 8 yrs. i am glad he didnt hurt anyone. only himself


yep, had a good life with u..... thats why he tried to kill himself while he was with u. he has been in need of help for a very long time. now we can all hope that he truly gets the help he needs.