A foiled purse snatching in a grocery aisle at Walmart on July 1 led Augusta police to charge a New York man with a series of thefts of purses and wallets from shoppers as well as with robbery and drug offenses.

Police say the alleged robber and two female accomplices took credit and debit cards from stolen wallets and went shopping themselves, charging numerous items at Walmart, T.J. Maxx and Wendy’s in Augusta. Five incidents of stolen purses were reported at Walmart June 28 through July 5.

One of women facing theft charges, Beth McEwen, 28, of Plymouth, who was arrested July 1 on a number of charges, including failure to appear on a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and terrorizing as well as on a warrant charging her with failure to pay fines on a theft conviction, told police the purse snatchers targeted “older ladies with purses,” according to an affidavit filed in Augusta District Court by Augusta Police Detective Chris Blodgett.

Around 6:30 p.m. July 1, a shopper and her mother-in-law were at Walmart looking at cake mixes when a couple walked past. “The female picked up her wallet from the cart and continued to walk,” Blodgett’s affidavit says. The wallet owner grabbed the woman’s arm and demanded the wallet back, getting it eventually when the woman broke down and started shaking and saying, “Don’t let him near me. He made me do it.”

But when the victim went for help, the woman fled, running out of the store and toward Panera Bread. She met up again with the man and they got into a pickup truck and left.

Police viewing video surveillance footage identified the man as William K. “Haze” Seabron, 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the woman as Audra Purington, 37, formerly of Dresden and Farmingdale. The two were later identified on video surveillance from the other stores purchasing items along with McEwen and using the stolen credit cards, according to Blodgett.

Seabron was arrested Wednesday when Augusta police with guns drawn stopped a taxi he was in on Western Avenue and Whitten Road.

On Friday, a judge in Augusta District Court set Seabron’s bail at $10,000 with a Maine Pretrial supervision contract. Seabron is charged with robbery, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, unlawful trafficking in marijuana, unlawful possession of scheduled drugs and four counts of misuse of identification.

Police continue to search for Purington and ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Blodgett at 207-626-2370, extension 3422.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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