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Jed Boal, KSL TV

Thieves snatch purse from shopping cart, target shoppers' home

By Jed Boal, KSL TV | Posted - Sep 18th, 2018 @ 9:41pm


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MILLCREEK — A Millcreek couple is taking inventory and cleaning up after a purse snatcher turned that theft into an even bigger score.

The robber took keys and identification from the purse and headed straight for the victims’ home. The thieves made off with a few valuables, but did not damage the greatest treasure in the home.

“We were loading the groceries,” said Karen Brown, who had finished shopping at Costco with her husband, Merv, around 6 p.m. Monday.

“My purse ... I put it where you carry the baby,” she said. All of a sudden, a black Jeep SUV sped up to where they were unloading the groceries from the cart. It showed up so closely and so quickly that the Browns had to step back.

“Just barreling down,” Karen said of the Jeep. It was right in front of her, and so was the thief.

“She stuck her hand out the window and said 'Give me that,' and grabbed my purse,” said Karen.

The woman raced off. The Browns waited 40 minutes for police to report the crime.

When the Brown’s got home more than an hour later, "They had stolen our van,” said Karen. The thieves apparently used the identification and the keys from Karen’s purse to go to their home, steal the van and head inside.

"I says, well ... they’ve been here. We’re too late,” said Merv.

When they went inside, nearly the entire house had been ransacked.

“They had just been in every room and trashed all drawers,” said Karen.

The burglars hunted for valuables in every room, making more of a mess than anything else.

“They got away with a laptop, a monitor,” said Karen. “They tried to take our TV, but Merv has it mounted to the wall so well they couldn’t get it.”

“You kind of feel violated,” said Merv, “like you’re not safe anymore.”

They said they’re feeling peace today because it could’ve been worse.

“They didn’t hurt my Merv,” said Karen, “and no damage was done to the organ.”

Merv Brown plays the full-sized organ he built into his Millcreek home. He and his wife, Karen, are happy the organ wasn't damaged by the people who stole Karen's purse from a Costco parking lot Monday and used its contents to break into and burglarize their home. (Photo: Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)

When you walk in the front door of the home, you’re greeted by an extraordinary full-sized organ, surrounded by 1900 pipes that Merv built into the home.

“It’s kind of my life,” said Merv, professionally and personally. “I’ve tuned the Tabernacle organ.”

Merv spent his career building organs, playing organs, and continually refining and tinkering with the organ built into his home.

“I started it when I was a teenager in high school and my dad’s garage.”

In fact, he bought their current home to house his organ several decades ago, before he was even married. He’s glad they left his life’s work unharmed, and so is Karen.

“They didn’t get anything that I value.”

The thieves stole Karen’s wedding ring off of the mantle in the bedroom, but Merv found it.

“On the floor in another room,” said Karen. “They dropped it.”

They also feel fortunate that their main computer was in their car when the burglars hit their home. The computer was being taken in for repairs.

Police said purse snatching in the Costco parking lot is not that unusual, unfortunately. What is unusual is the way the thief took the purse and took off.

Police do not have any surveillance video. Detectives are working on developing leads.

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Jed Boal

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Updated: Thursday November 15, 2018 5:36 am