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LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Longview police said Thursday that they have been responding to a wave of purse snatchings by bike in recent weeks.

Since Dec. 23, the small town has seen at least five cases where purse snatchers on bicycles have struck in Fred Meyer, Safeway and Walgreens parking lots, according to police.

The thieves, targeting women as old as 61, wait outside stores for women who are alone with their purses in their carts. As the victims load groceries into their cars, the thieves have been riding up on their bikes, grabbing the purses and peddling away.

Investigators believe there could be as many as three suspects. They re not sure yet if they re working together, but their descriptions are similar, police said.

One suspect was described as a man, possibly in his early to mid 20s, wearing a hooded jacket and/or dark clothing, according to police.

Roy Collins said his wife was targeted. She only had six dollars in her purse, but she lost her credit cards, ID, and medication as well.

He s probably got some problems, Collins said. He needs some help, but we need him off the street. He s not the only guy doing crimes like this but sooner or later he s going to hurt somebody.

Most incidents have centered near the intersection of Ocean Beach Highway and 30th Avenue.

Police warned residents to be vigilant.

In one incident, surveillance video shows the suspect watching people, as if looking for opportunities to steal, said Longview Police Captain Deborah Johnson. By being more aware and safe guarding our property, we can make it more difficult for criminals to commit crimes.

Anyone with information about the crime was asked to contact LPD Patrol Investigator Nicholas Woodard at 360-442-5800 or CrimeStoppers at 360-577-1206.

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