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Friday, October 26th, 2007

Purse snatching snags woman jail time

By Margie Wuebker
A designer purse snatched from Etcetera, 105 S. Main St., on Tuesday afternoon led to a jail sentence for a local woman and sparked a continuing investigation.
Savaniah Montague, 21, 417 Ann St., Apt. 41, appeared in Celina Municipal Court the following day and was found guilty of two counts of theft, both first-degree misdemeanors.
Judge James Scheer sentenced her to 20 days in jail and then suspended 15 days on the condition she commit no similar offenses and stay away from the local store for five years.
Montague reportedly left Etcetera shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday with a Vera Bradley purse valued in excess of $100 that she snatched from a display. Store owner Michelle Dieringer saw the incident and chased the woman down the street, while a store employee alerted Celina Police.
The chase headed eastbound along an alley near Dollar General and continued around the area of the Mercer County Historical Museum and Burger King off East Market Street. Dieringer stopped along the way to speak with Sgt. Jim Stelzer about the suspect described as a blonde-haired woman wearing blue jeans and a brown sweatshirt trimmed in pink.
An unidentified man, who had been in the store earlier, alerted authorities later about a woman standing in an alley behind Art's Muffler & Tires, 212 E. Fayette St. She reportedly fit the description except her attire included a red T-shirt instead of a sweatshirt.
Chief Dave Slusser subsequently found the brown sweatshirt snagged on a fence and the woman was located nearby. Dieringer also went to the scene and identified the purse in Montague's possession as one that had disappeared from a store display the previous week. Stelzer found the other purse atop a parked car behind the museum.
"The purses were easily recognizable because of changes made for display purposes," Slusser told The Daily Standard. "Most people would not notice those slight changes but store personnel sure did."
During the court appearance, Montague gave authorities permission to check her apartment and they took Montague along. They found no additional purses but seized 13 decorative items including Ohio State University memorabilia, statues and picture frames stolen from the store.  
"These were unique designer items not widely sold in the community," Slusser added. "They also matched the store's inventory of things that came up missing."
The investigation is continuing and additional charges could be filed later.
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