Woman's E-Mail Helps Police Catch Suspected Purse Snatcher

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Knoxville (WVLT) - A Blount County man is behind bars in Knox County due to one woman's e-mail.

Police say 24-year-old Rafael Mazyck snatched up at least six women's purses at various West Knoxville gas stations last week and was wanted for car theft in South Carolina and more theft in Blount County.

Knoxville Police tell WVLT Mazyck was staying at the Hamilton Inn near Middlebrook Pike and Western Avenue all last week.

A Knoxville woman had her purse stolen by him last Wednesday and decided to take action for other women through the internet.

"I stopped at the Weigel's real quick just to pick something up and I thought I'd locked my door, and I have an electronic clicker, but apparently it didn't click,” the Knoxville woman, who did not want to be identified for safety reasons, says she was in the Weigel's on Kingston Pike for about two minutes.

"Came back in and my purse was stolen," she says. "I had a nice messenger bag with a matching wallet. I had new eyeglasses, prescription eyeglasses, my iPod, credit cards."

Police say 24-year-old Rafael Mazyck got away with her belongings in a matter of seconds.

"When I called to cancel my cards, I was told by my Visa company that my card had already been used about five minutes later at a Shell station on Kingston Pike,” So the woman went to the Shell station Thursday, and sure enough, Mazyck was there trying to steal from more women. "It was like I had a flashback and remembered that I had gotten behind that same vehicle at Weigel's."

The woman called police again and says she couldn't believe he was getting away with this. "A good friend of mine that works here encouraged me to write an e-mail stating what had happened to me."

The e-mail included a detailed description of Mazyck's Dodge Durango with the South Carolina tag number, warning women to be on the lookout. "I forwarded it out to the people in the office and then some other friends of mine outside the office."

The e-mail quickly snowballed to hundreds of women, including one who helped get Mazyck arrested Friday.

"Someone spotted the vehicle that we were looking for,” says Knoxville Police Sergeant Tammy Mattina.

"Maybe I was able to help prevent this from happening to some other ladies around town,” the woman says.

KPD says just because this guy is behind bars, doesn't mean there aren't other predators out there.

They say you should never leave your purse in your car, always carry it close to you, no matter where you are, and always make sure your car is locked.

KPD says this is an ongoing investigation, and if you think you Mazyck may have victimized you, call the property crimes unit at 215-7324.

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