Police investigate muggings

By Sharna Johnson, CNJ staff writer

Clovis police are investigating about half a dozen muggings within recent weeks.

This weekend, two purse snatchings added to a growing list of residents who have been robbed.

Capt. Patrick Whitney said the descriptions victims have been able to provide police are sketchy at best and police are having a difficult time in the cases.

Around 11 p.m. Sunday, a woman in the 1000 block of Mitchell Street reported she was shoved to the ground by a masked man, who grabbed her purse and ran down an alley, police records show.

And about 8 p.m. Friday a passerby called police about a woman screaming for help near 14th and Thornton streets. The woman said she was robbed as she was leaving work at a doctor’s office.

She told police she heard hastening footsteps behind her and when she turned to look, a male was closing in on her. She said he said “Hi” then pushed her into her car and took her purse, running away, a police report said.

Police said similar incidents include:

• A Jan. 21 purse snatching in the Albertson’s parking lot.

• A Jan. 11 robbery of a Sonic waitress and minutes later the attempted robbery of a waitress at Foxy’s Drive-in restaurant.

• The Nov. 30 robbery and assault of Larry Porter outside his home. Porter is still recovering from a broken leg suffered when he was attacked and robbed.

Police say the problem for investigators is suspect descriptions given by victims are sometimes vague or conflicting.

In the Jan. 11 robberies, even though they were just moments apart and had distinct similarities with everything pointing toward a single suspect, the descriptions from victims were inconsistent.

Police can’t even say if the incidents are all connected or just indicative of a trend.

And there is no specific location with reports ranging from the heart of the Clovis business district to locations north and west.

“There’s still no good identifications,” Whitney said. “There’s no good descriptions.”

“There’s similarities, but that doesn’t mean that they are connected. That would be quite a leap.”

Whitney said detectives are following up and continue to pursue new leads and new information, going through photo line-ups and interviewing victims again.

Whitney said suspects have chosen victims who were preoccupied or not paying attention — getting in and out of vehicles or carrying bags — giving them the element of surprise

“These criminals are watching you or looking out for you, you need to be looking out for them,” Whitney said.

“It’s crime of opportunity it’s happened all over the place so (from a police perspective) there’s no way to counter that other than to tell people they need to pay more attention.”

If a person is a victim of a robbery or witnesses one, Whitney said it is important to look for distinct or unique characteristics such as birth marks, tattoos, accents or unique speech patterns — anything that will help police identify the suspect.

And residents should make efforts to be aware of their surroundings and who is around, and report suspicious activity.