Victim recalls frightening Kelso robbery

Victim recalls frightening Kelso robbery

As a robbery victim described her ordeal to a reporter Thursday, a customer in a white hooded sweatshirt entered The Daily News.

The man who robbed her had worn a white hooded sweatshirt. The robber, who stole her purse and then drove off with the victim hanging out of his car Jan. 29, still is at large.

Although the customer stood several yards away from her during the interview and never glanced her way, the victim, Shelly, turned pale under her tan and trembled. She willed herself not to cry, but the tears came.

“This is what happens to her now,” said Shelly’s best friend, Paula Nelson of Longview. “She shuts down. It’s unbelievable. … You see all these kids with hoods on. She wants to look, but she’s scared — what if it’s him? It’s the unknown that’s so frightening.”

Shelly has always prided herself on being a strong woman. She grew up in a household of boys. Her father, a boxer, taught her to box.

“I just learned to stand up for myself,” Shelly said. “I’m not afraid to stand up to anybody. That’s how I was raised.”

So on Jan. 29, when a man reached into her car at the Kelso Safeway and stole her purse, she was true to her upbringing and stood up for herself. “This guy passed by me” as she pushed her shopping cart to the return spot three cars away, she said. “I got a bad feeling. I turned around and this guy was in my car, stealing my purse.”

She screamed for help from fellow customers as she tore off after him, grabbing his hood and yanking his hat off. When he jumped into his car, which had its window rolled down, “I grabbed him through his window to try and stop him,” Shelly said.

The man drove off with her hanging partly out the window.

“He slammed me full force into this parked van,” she said, and knocked her to the ground.

None of the customers helped her, she said. Nobody even got a license plate. The Kelso Safeway doesn’t have surveillance cameras in the parking lot, she said.

She hopes someone who witnessed the robbery and/or knows who the robber is will call Kelso police or Crime Stoppers with that information.

She said the robber was a white man in his early 20s, between 5-foot-10 and 6-feet tall, 150 to 160 pounds, with dark hair. He drove a white older passenger car, possibly a late ’80s to early 1990s Honda Accord or Honda Prelude, she said.

The robber apparently quickly sold or traded her cell phone, because she spent most of the day trying to get her cell phone back from a man who answered it. An officer posing as Shelly recovered the phone, but the man who had it wasn’t the robber, Shelly said. Her purse also contained Social Security cards for herself and her three children, two of whom are minors, she said.

“You can’t put a fraud alert on their number because they’re not 18,” she said. “How is that possible? They should have protection on Social Security numbers on children under 18. So many people are abusing children’s Social Security numbers.”

She said it hurts that some people criticized her online for taking action against the robber.

“People are saying, ‘Your life is more important than your wallet,’ but there’s a lot of stuff a woman carries in her purse. … It would expose all of us to identity theft. It’s not only me being a victim, it’s the whole family.”

Dread is her constant companion.

“It’s totally changed my whole way of trusting people anymore,” she said. “I constantly keep my door locked. I’m aware of anybody who’s around me at any time.”

She never lets her purse out of her sight and never walks to her car alone.

“I have somebody walk me out to my car and load my groceries for me,” she said.


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