Janesville man arrested in purse thefts
In the middle of a string of purse snatchings in Janesville, police investigators tried to warn the public. Officers ran surveillance at retail outlets and reached out through local media to share safety tips.
One of those tips is to hold your purse close to your body while you're shopping, Lt. Keith Lawver said.
He remembers in those days seeing lots of women walking around the mall with their purses dangling from their hands.
"It's a little disheartening," Lawver said. "You think the message is clear."
Here are some tips from the police department. You could share them with friends or tape them to your purse as a reminder.
n Don't overload yourself with packages when you're leaving the store. Look around and be alert when you're walking to your car.
-- Don't wear headphones because they would make it easier for someone to sneak up on you.
-- Stay in well lit, wide-open areas as opposed to secluded areas. Don't take shortcuts through alleys or vacant lots.
-- Don't risk your life or safety for your personal items.
-- Carry a cellphone if you can. Call police right away if you see suspicious activity.
-- One last tip from a Gazette reporter who recently broke this rule at Woodman's, even though she writes about thefts every day: Have your keys in your hand when you leave the store so you don't have to spend five minutes digging for them in the dark parking lot.
JANESVILLE Yes, it's good news.
It doesn't mean you can relax, Janesville Police Department Lt. Keith Lawver said about the Tuesday arrest of a Janesville man police suspect is responsible for multiple purse snatchings in October.
"The best thing that we can do, just because we got the guy that's responsible for these incidents … is don't let our guards down," Lawver said.
Arrested on seven counts of theft and two counts of attempted theft was Travis Boerschinger, 26, of 2523 Lucerne Drive, Janesville, according to a news release from the Janesville Police Department.
Boerschinger typically grabbed purses from carts, Lawver said. In a couple cases, he tried to pull them from people's hands, Lawver said.
In no case did Boerschinger talk to victims, Lawver said.
"He wanted as little contact as possible," Lawver said.
Boerschinger took cash and jewelry, according to police reports. He used stolen credit cards to make purchases, Lawver said.
He was stealing belongings to support his heroin addiction, Lawver said.
Police have been investigating the snatchings for weeks. They finally got a tip from an acquaintance of Boerschinger, Lawver said. They were able to substantiate the tip based on information from witnesses, he said.
The following related incidents were reported to police:
-- A 59-year-old Milton woman told police she noticed her purse was missing when she went to unload her shopping cart on Oct. 5 in the parking lot of Sam's Club, 3900 Deerfield Drive, Janesville.
-- A 32-year-old Janesville woman reported her purse was taken Oct. 6 from a table in the pool area at America's Best Value Inn, 3900 Milton Ave., Janesville.
-- A 20-year-old Janesville woman told police her purse was taken from her cart Oct. 11 when she was in the parking lot of Woodman's, 2819 N. Lexington Drive, Janesville.
-- An 89-year-old Janesville woman told police a man stole her purse out of her cart on Oct. 16 at Boston Store, 2500 Milton Ave., Janesville.
-- A 65-year-old Edgerton woman screamed, swore and held on to her purse when a man tried to grab it from her at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 outside Boston Store at the Janesville Mall. The man laughed at her language and ran off, Deputy Chief Dan Davis said.
In a couple of the incidents, police recovered the purses immediately after the thefts, Lawver said. No other belongings have been recovered since the arrest, he said.
Boerschinger is in custody at the Rock County Jail. He is set to appear in court today.