Two Woodland Hills Residents Charged in Purse Thefts

crime concepts; robbery concepts; a robber aimed his sharp knife at a woman to rob her valuable things in bag

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BURBANK (CNS) - Two Woodland Hills residents have been charged in connection with an alleged spree of purse thefts in Los Angeles County, including the city of Burbank, authorities said today.

Marcelino Mata, 33, pleaded not guilty to five counts of grand theft and one count of possession of personal identifying information, while co- defendant Sulene Garavito, 32, is set to be arraigned June 8 on the same charges, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The case stems from an investigation by the Burbank Police Department into the Feb. 25 thefts of two purses at a Costco store at 1051 W. Burbank Blvd., and the theft of a third purse at a nearby Walmart at 1301 N. Victory Place the same day, according to police.

Officers learned the purses were stolen from two women who were putting groceries into their vehicles after shopping at Costco, and that a female whose purse was stolen while she was placing items into her vehicle after shopping at Walmart was able to see and document the license plate of the suspect's vehicle, according to police.

Investigators served a search warrant at a Woodland Hills home believed to be the suspects' residence, and discovered evidence linking them to the crimes, along with ``other similar crimes throughout Los Angeles County,'' police said in a statement announcing the arrests.

Mata was taken into custody Friday and has remained behind bars since then, while Garavito was released on a citation, according to jail records.

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