Deputies: Sarasota purse thief could have many more victims

- As spring break ramps up in Sarasota County, deputies hope an arrest of a purse snatcher will lead more victims to come forward.

Deputies say Raymond Counsel stole bags from as few as two women, and possibly as many as six, at The Beach Club nightspot on Ocean Blvd. on Siesta Key on February 27.

Deputies say surveillance cameras captured images of Counsel sliding bags away from women who were seated at the bar, and sliding it into his bubbly jacket.

"If they are going to steal one thing or two things, they are going to keep stealing until they get caught," said Lt. Dave Scott.

Deputies were able to identify and arrest Counsel, but are hoping to get out the word not only on additional victims, but also on spring break safety.

"We love when people come down," said Scott.

Tourism to Sarasota typically doubles during March, thanks to spring breakers and spring training, where the Orioles are based.

Deputies are hoping to encourage spring breakers to watch over their personal items while they go out and have a good time.

"I don't put purses on a chair anymore or hang it over (the back) anymore," said spring breaker Alisha Datchel. "I just don't feel safe with that anymore."

Deputies say that the beach club was very cooperative in the investigation.

The suspect, raymond counsel, asked for an attorney during his interview with detectives.

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