Thao Minh Luong booking photo
SAN JOSE — The San Jose Police Department has announced the arrest of a serial purse-snatcher who had been tied to more than 20 incidents since late November. According to Officer Albert Morales, the suspect would mostly target older Vietnamese women as they returned to their vehicles after going shopping.
The suspect, 50-year-old Thao Minh Luong, was finally arrested on January 10.
According to Officer Morales, Luong would approach the victims from behind and rip their purses from their hands. In one case, he is alleged to have dragged and punched a 67-year-old woman who didn’t let go of her purse fast enough.
Luong is also believed to have committed some of these crimes with the help of an accomplice, apparently snatching purses up as the victims placed them in their vehicles and driving away in their own vehicle.
Robbery detectives soon began plans for a sting operation. Surveillance of the parking lots of several Asian markets were conducted, including Senter Foods at 3975 Senter Road where the two previous robberies had occurred.
Police say Luong entered the Senter Foods parking Lot at approximately 10 AM and drove slowly around the lot numerous times, eventually targeting a 67-year-old woman as she was putting groceries in her car. Luong allegedly then exited the vehicle and snatched the woman’s purse, then fled to a nearby parking lot. He was in the middle of getting rid of it when apprehended by detectives.
A subsequent search of the vehicle and a motel room he’d been renting also turned up stolen property from other robberies, police said.
Luong’s alleged accomplice remains at large. Anyone with pertinent information is strongly encouraged to contact Detective Michael Villanueva or Detective Juan Hernandez of the SJPD Robbery Unit at 408-277-4166.