The mother said the girl learned a valuable lesson.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- The pain of a young girl's first experience as a victim of petty crime was softened when township police reimbursed her the $47 that was stolen from her purse while she was shopping two weeks ago.
East Palestine residents Keri Seabrook, 9, and her mother, Kimberly Seabrook, headed out to shop at stores in the U.S. Route 224 and South Avenue area at about 3 p.m. July 8.
Kimberly Seabrook was looking for odds and ends, but Keri, armed with a pink purse carrying gifts from a recent birthday and money saved out of her $5-per-week allowance, decided Sunday afternoon was a good time for a spree.
They made it to Pat Catan's Craft Centers on South Avenue and were perusing the aisles when Keri inadvertently put her purse on one of the shelves and left the aisle. Kimberly Seabrook said that less than a minute later her daughter realized her mistake and returned to the aisle, only to find the small purse and wallet on the floor without the money.
"I am just not used to her carrying a purse," said Kimberly Seabrook. "The part that bothers me more than anything is that whoever went through that purse had to know it belonged to a child."
Looking for clues: Kimberly Seabrook knew the thief would likely not be found and the money would not be returned. Keri, however, held onto hope while waiting for township police to arrive and investigate. In the meantime, Pat Catan's employees tried to comfort her with candy while they combed the store.
According to police reports, Patrolman George F. Antonell Jr. was in the store's parking lot about 10 minutes after the purse was found. Antonell was told of a woman who had been near Keri since the child entered the store. But the officer explained that the woman would have to be found, and even then there would be no case since no one saw this person take the money.
Antonell explained various ways for Keri to safeguard herself from similar situations. He recommended carrying a purse that hangs around the neck.
"It just seems ... that someone must have been watching this kid. Who would think to look in a child's purse for money?" said Antonell. "I thought it was awful terrible that someone would steal from a little kid like that."
Antonell took the story to the Fraternal Order of Police, which then called the Seabrook home and made arrangements to reimburse the $47.
Kimberly Seabrook says it was a lesson well-learned -- Keri, happy to have her hard-saved money back, is much more cognizant of where she leaves her belongings.