Suspect in attempted robbery nabbed at Tanger

The combined efforts of Riverhead police and some good Samaritans led to the arrest of a homeless man who tried to steal a woman’s purse Saturday.

On June 29 at about 2:40 p.m., Riverhead police received numerous calls reporting that a woman had been robbed in the parking lot of Tanger Outlets. 

Police responded to the scene and were able to immediately detain the suspect, who was found hiding behind a bush near one of the Tanger parking lots. 

Town detectives also responded and conducted an investigation, which determined that the female victim, 44, was visiting from out of state and had fallen asleep in the backseat of a friend’s vehicle that was parked in the lot while her friends were shopping, police said.

The victim reported that she woke up and saw a man’s arm reaching through the open passenger-side window, then holding her down as she was lying on the backseat of the vehicle, police said. 

While forcibly holding her down, the suspect reached into the vehicle with his other arm and attempted to remove the victim’s purse, which also contained her debit card. 

A struggle for the purse ensued, and the suspect was able to take it from the woman and flee on foot. 

The victim, who reported minor injuries as a result of the incident, said she exited the vehicle and chased after the subject, screaming and alerting others in the area that she’d just been robbed. 

Two good Samaritans observed her, and the fleeing suspect, and assisted by chasing after the suspect, police said. Additional witnesses also observed the subject’s flight and alerted the victim and Riverhead police. 

The suspect was identified as Shawn Collins, 35, who is homeless but frequents the Riverhead area. He was wearing a black ski mask when he was apprehended. Police were able to recover the victim’s purse and debit card. A Riverhead K-9 unit also recovered a GPS ankle bracelet that had been removed and discarded by Mr. Collins, police said. 

Mr. Collins was subsequently arrested and transported to Riverhead police headquarters, where he was processed on a charge of third-degree robbery, a class D felony, and held for arraignment. 

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information pertaining to the case is asked to call Riverhead detectives at 631-727-4500. 

All calls will be kept confidential.