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Video appears to show man stealing wallet from purse in Toronto restaurant, chase ensues

Global News logo Global News 2019-09-07 Nick Westoll
A man appears on video to take a wallet from a woman's purse in a midtown restaurant. © Handout A man appears on video to take a wallet from a woman's purse in a midtown restaurant.

A Toronto woman says she wants to raise awareness after a man allegedly stole the wallet out of her purse during a lunch out, resulting in a brief foot pursuit along Yonge Street.

Kari, who didn't want her last name used due to security concerns, said she and a friend were out for lunch at the Pho King Fabulous restaurant on Yonge Street near Broadway Avenue, north of Eglinton Avenue East, on Thursday.

The pair were the only ones in the restaurant at the time and Kari said they were involved in an in-depth conversation. A man can be seen on video coming into the restaurant and sitting at a table directly behind Kari. He can be seen taking off a slightly bulky black jacket and draping it over his chair before lifting it and reaching down.

READ MORE: Point-of-sale terminal scam bilks Brampton restaurant of $4,600

The man can be seen putting the jacket down when a waiter comes to the table. As the employee leaves, the man briefly looks at a menu and puts his arm back down. Seconds later, he gets up and can be seen leaving the restaurant.

"She mentioned to me. She said, 'That's very odd. This guy walking by was just sitting behind you and then he left within like a minute,'" Kari told Global News.

"That's very strange and I remembered feeling a nudge at the back of my chair and I just looked in my purse and my wallet was gone."

Realizing what happened, Kari can be seen on video bolting out of the restaurant. She said she chased him briefly down Yonge Street before coming within a few feet of him.

READ MORE: Man and woman wanted after pickpocket thefts at downtown restaurants

"I screamed at him, 'You stole my wallet. This person stole my wallet.' I was just screaming, drawing attention," she recalled.

"Everybody started looking and everybody froze and stopped. He turned and looked at me and then looked ahead as if he was thinking he was going to run, but then he dropped it. He threw it backwards with his right hand and it landed on the ground."

Kari said she was shocked by what happened, noting everything "happened so quickly."

"He was a lot larger than I am and I was not about to get in any confrontation — I got what I wanted," she said.

"I was in shock ... I think at that point I realized that it was probably dangerous what I had just done and that something bad could have happened. But in that moment, I felt absolutely violated and it didn't matter — I just wanted my wallet back, like how dare you?"

Kari said Toronto police responded quickly after she contacted officers and praised the restaurant manager for pulling video of the incident, which she said investigators reviewed.

READ MORE: Man arrested after alleged theft using Joker disguise, Toronto police say

Const. David Hopkinson told Global News officers are investigating the incident, adding he wasn't able to comment on the videos. He encouraged people to be mindful of where they're placing their belongings while in public places.

"Toronto police do not recommend that. Why are you chasing this person? Is your safety worth whatever they've stolen? We already see incidents where people are injured by criminals or people doing robberies," he said.

"We want to keep people as safe as possible. Call us, let us do our jobs (and) take a good description of the person."

Meanwhile, Kari said she wanted to share her story to caution residents and to identify the man.

"You don't leave your purse open, you don't set your purse on the back of your chair — especially if there's a table behind you," she said.

"This is our neighbourhood and I don't want people to not know that this stuff happens. It happens every day."

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