County police say they have broken up a ring of purse snatchers who used stolen credit cards to buy designer clothes and other merchandise, which they traded for crack cocaine.
Three adults and two youths have been charged in connection with six muggings -- five in Anne Arundel County and one in Baltimore -- that left two elderly women injured.
A 75-year-old Glen Burnie woman bruised her hip when she was dragged down a street during one attack last month, and a 71-year-old Linthicum woman suffered a mild heart attack shortly after her purse wastaken four days later.
"It was strictly for drugs," said Sgt. Donald G. Ziegler, a Northern District officer who has investigated the case since mid-January.
Police got a break Jan. 25, when the sister of one of the youths involved called the Northern District after seeing her brother with a car that he didn't own, Ziegler said.
Interviews with suspects led to the arrest of seven people -- including two who are not directly connected to the purse-snatching ring -- who could face up to 41 charges for credit-card fraud, robbery and conspiracy to defraud an insurance company.
Police say members of the group committed the muggings from Jan. 1 to Jan. 20. The first arrest was Feb. 3 and the last was made Feb. 17.
Ziegler said the suspectsbought items such as cigarettes, Nike sports shoes and clothes with the credit cards at stores throughout the Baltimore area. He said group members traded the merchandise for crack cocaine at the 10th Avenue housing project in Baltimore.
Ziegler said it is impossible to tell how much money is involved since police do not have all the credit card receipts, though he said each card was charged to the limit.
Three Baltimore residents have been charged in connection with the robberies:
* Michael E. Miller, 22, of the 300 block of Pontiac Avenue, was charged with five counts of robbery and once count of theft. Miller was being held Friday in the Baltimore City Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond.
* Lori M. Snyder, 20, of the 3800 block of Third Street, was charged with five counts of robbery and seven counts of credit card fraud. She has been released on bail from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.
* Mary L. Higgins, 28, of the 3600 block ofSouth Hanover Street, was charged with two counts of robbery. She was being held Friday in the county detention center in lieu of $900 bail.
Also charged in connection with the muggings were a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old.
The owner of a car used by the ring was charged with trying to defraud his insurance company. Police say the Glen Burnie man, who was not not connected to the group, gave the car to a16-year-old and instructed him to torch it because his payments weretoo high.
But Ziegler said the youth instead rented the car to members of the purse-snatching ring, who used it to drive to Baltimore to pick up drugs.
James Boudreaux, 41, of the 300 block of Congressional Court, was charged with conspiracy to defraud and filing a false report. The 16-year-old was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.