- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 15, 2001

Police are investigating a Lanham woman jailed on purse-snatching charges in Spotsylvania, Va., in connection with thefts in 10 jurisdictions along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Marguerite Brown, 46, has been held without bond since Tuesday in the Rappahannock Regional Jail on charges of credit-card fraud and obtaining goods under false pretenses.

"I think she was just going up and down the Interstate," said Maj. Howard Smith, of the Spotsylvania County sheriff's office.

Maj. Smith said Mrs. Brown is wanted in 21 similar cases 10 in Fairfax County alone, and in Stafford and King George counties in Virginia, three or four Maryland jurisdictions, including Calvert County, and North Carolina.

Maj. Smith said the suspect "would go into schools, posing as a grandmother, or looking for a job, like in the cafeteria."

"I would say she doesn't have any grandchildren in schools here," he said. "Once she found a classroom that was empty, she would go in and take the teacher's purse, or their credit cards and cash."

Soon after Spotsylvania police issued an alert Dec. 7 throughout county schools, with a description of the suspect, two schools called police with reports that the suspect was in the building. The suspect managed to leave the schools Salem Elementary in Fredericksburg and Courthouse Road Elementary in Spotsylvania before officers arrived.

Investigators learned that a credit card from a purse stolen from the Courthouse Road school had been used and the signature forged to buy $300 worth of groceries at a Giant supermarket.

Tuesday, a bookkeeper at Chancellor Elementary in Fredericksburg called police when a woman fitting the description of the suspect entered the school, Maj. Smith said. The suspect was seen climbing into a light blue Monte Carlo with North Carolina tags. Deputies were given the license plate number, and a car of that description, driven by Mrs. Brown, was stopped nearby.

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