LAWRENCE (CBS) — Police arrested a man after they said he stole an 80-year-old woman’s purse Tuesday morning–as she was cleaning up her husband’s grave site.
Christopher Ansara, 32, was arrested in a parking lot near Central Bridge in Lawrence later that day.
Lawrence Police said he came up from behind the woman at St. Mary-Immaculate Conception Cemetery on Currant Hill Road around 10:30 a.m, and took off with her purse, which had been sitting on the ground.
The victim, Anne Ogden, told WBZ-TV, that she has been visiting her late grandmother and then her late husband at this cemetery for almost 76 years. She keeps up planted geraniums at their burial plots.
“I haven’t missed a year, and this was the first year I had a problem , and I always went alone,” said Ogden.
She believed that the theft knew exactly what he was doing.
“Take the money out and leave the bag,” Ogden pleaded with the man.
She just went to the bank and had almost $1000 with her. But Ogden was more upset about $80 of it, pieces of a habit that started when her husband died she took a $20 from his wallet.
“I took 20 dollars out. I did the same with my mother, my aunt Julie and my godmother Anna,” said Ogden. “Cause I felt they’ll always be with me, that’s what I wanted back.”
An anonymous caller told Methuen Police that Ansara had visited a convenience store in Methuen, then took a cab to Central Bridge.
Detectives from the Lawrence Police Department were able to identify Ansara based on surveillance video from that store, as well as the victim’s description.
Police said Ansara confessed to stealing the purse at the Lawrence Police Station.
Ogden’s purse was returned but not the valuable items, including her sense of safety. She explained that she will not be going back alone.
“I’ve had a good life until this, what are you going to do?” said Ogden.
She added that she is sharing her story so other people don’t make the same mistake, especially as more people visit cemeteries for the Memorial Day weekend.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports