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LI purse snatchings leave victims, neighbors on edge

As the number of purse snatching victims continues to rise, residents of some of Nassau's South Shore communities say the attacks have them on edge.

The most recent victim, Maureen Herman of Baldwin, was the 12th woman attacked in a spree that has also included Levittown, Merrick, North Merrick, East Meadow and Wantagh.

While Herman managed to keep her purse and escape uninjured, she said she will be more careful in the future.

"I'm stunned it happened here," said Herman, who grew up on the block. "I don't want to feel any different about the neighborhood."

Sharon Heredia, one of Herman's neighbors, said she is extra cautious when moving around her neighborhood. "I have my keys ready, my door is right there and I go right in," she said. "I look around because there are always cars back and forth. . . . You don't know who is watching. . . . It's a changing world. You have to be careful."

Another of Herman's neighbors, Patrick Espert, 50, said he worries for the safety of his family. "We don't have this kind of behavior around here," he said. "This is serious. We have to keep our eyes open."

He said neighborhoods may need to install cameras or start neighborhood watch groups.

Joan Behrens, 59, who was attacked in her Merrick driveway Nov. 10, said she avoided her annual shopping spree on Black Friday this year because she didn't want to leave home.

Behrens got home from work as a pharmacist technician Nov. 10 at 9 p.m. and was getting packages from her car when she was attacked.

Behrens lost her purse, $550 in holiday shopping money, a ring, three camera memory cards, credit cards and her license.

But she also lost her sense of safety. "I'm afraid to go out at night," she said. "It's just a creepy feeling to be violated like that. . . . I just hope they catch them so it doesn't happen to another person."

With John Valenti

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