Police detective, Good Samaritan chase down purse snatching suspect at Modesto store

Sonny Wilkins
Sonny Wilkins

Police officials on Thursday were looking for the victim of a purse snatching that was foiled by an off-duty detective and a Good Samaritan who chased down the suspect at a Modesto grocery store.

Sonny Wilkins, 19, is suspected of stealing a woman's purse on Wednesday evening at the Save Mart grocery store on Oakdale Road, just north of Scenic Drive in east Modesto.

Wlkins was arrested on suspicion of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, elder abuse and violating probation, the Modesto Police Department announced in a news release Thursday afternoon.

Police officials believe Wilkins also is responsible for another purse snatching and attempted mugging earlier Wednesday at other stores in Modesto.

Wlkins was apprehended after he grabbed the woman's purse at the Save Mart store, police said. An off-duty Modesto police detective was inside the store when the purse snatching occurred.

Police said the detective and the Good Samaritan chased down Wilkins and detained him. Officials believe the woman recovered her purse, but she left before speaking with the police. She was wearing a gray shirt and blue jeans, and she was in the store with a teenage boy.

The first purse snatching on Wednesday occurred about 9 a.m. at the Walgreens store in the shopping center at 401 Paradise Road, just west of South Martin Luther King Drive in west Modesto.

Police said a 77-year-old woman was approaching the store entrance when Wilkins grabbed the purse she was tightly holding, before he left the area.

About 3 p.m. Wednesday, police received a report of an attempted robbery at Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store on McHenry Avenue, just south of Briggsmore Avenue in Modesto.

Police said a woman who was removing a child from a car, when Wilkins approached her and tried to grab a wallet she had tucked under her arm.

A witness spotted the attempted robbery and pushed Wilkins, police said. The shove allowed the woman to retrieve pepper spray. When Wilkins saw the pepper spray, he left the area in a vehicle, according to police.

Police officials ask anyone with information about Wednesday's robberies or the woman victimized at the Save Mart store to send an e-mail to Detective Randall Bolinger at