Police mug shots of Adesola Oguntunji and Lucson Desir.

Police mug shots of Adesola Oguntunji and Lucson Desir. Credit: Handout

The two men charged with snatching three purses Friday are suspected of committing 13 similar thefts along Nassau County's South Shore late last year, police said Tuesday.

The suspects, Adesola Oguntunji, 20, of Westbury, and Lucson Desir, 22, of New Cassel, were arrested Friday after the theft of the purses from a woman in Hicksville, police said.

Police increased patrols last fall and winter as the string of purse snatchings in Baldwin, Bellmore, East Meadow, Hicksville, Levittown, Merrick, North Merrick and Wantagh put women on edge.

Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey lauded the department's work.

"It's a tremendous job closing out a series of 14 pocketbook snatchings, based upon excellent work," he said.

Oguntunji and Desir have been charged with second-degree robbery in the Hicksville case and each is being held on $100,000 bond, or $50,000 cash bail.

Police said they believe Oguntunji and Desir committed the other purse snatchings because the men and Oguntunji's Maxima match descriptions given by victims; the bandits took cash and ditched the pocketbooks and belongings such as ID and credit cards in the Westbury-New Cassel area; and the method used in the Hicksville robbery - confronting women from behind in the evening - matches that used during the spree, which occurred between Oct. 23 and Nov. 30, and again on Dec. 30.

Forensic tests on the victims' property, which the duo ditched after taking out the cash, are pending.

"Our work is just starting," said squad commanding officer Det. Sgt. John Giambrone.

Police have been eyeing Oguntunji and Desir since late last year, when a civilian crime analyst noticed a routine suspicious-activity report submitted by a patrol officer: On Nov. 16, officers spotted the two driving in a Maxima with the lights out near Saratoga Drive and Madison Avenue in Jericho, Mulvey said.

"They give a story that they were waiting to meet some girls," Mulvey said.

Asked who the girls were, they couldn't provide names, police said. Because the duo weren't doing anything illegal, officers let them drive off but made a note of the incident.

The next month, the analyst working in the department's intelligence unit came upon that report, noticed the description and began to analyze whether the duo were the men responsible for the purse snatchings. Then robbery detectives received the report and began focusing on the men.

In the Hicksville case, Oguntunji is accused of approaching a victim, 64, from behind and snatching three handbags, while Desir waited nearby.

A daughter of the victim chased Oguntunji, police said, and her yelling attracted the attention of a nearby person, who noted Oguntunji's license plate for police.

That's when Giambrone activated a plan to flood the Westbury-New Cassel area with police. A sector car soon spotted the Maxima and police arrested the suspects, Giambrone said. The duo had gone to get Italian food. A detective then called the number of a cell phone device that had been stolen during the Hicksville robbery.

It rang in Oguntunji's car, police said. "They were busted," Mulvey said. "They were busted whether it rang or not, I think."

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