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Williams Lake senior shares a tough lesson to help keep others safe from crime

Theft of her purse left her angry and scared, so she shares her story to save others
(Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

It began like any other grocery shopping trip in Williams Lake for Carrie Barker.

But instead, it became a story she is sharing with everyone she can, as a lesson learned.

It was around 10 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2023, and she wheeled her cart out to her vehicle, parked just outside the doors of the FreshCo grocery store in the assessible parking spot.

She unloaded her groceries and her purse from the shopping cart, setting them both on the seat, and closed the door.

She then turned and wheeled her cart back to put it away, around the corner and just a few steps away.

“I was right close to them,” she said.

When she turned back towards her car after returning the cart, she saw a man closing her car door, where she had just set down her purse.

“I yelled at him,” recalled Barker, who said she felt angry and scared at the same time.

“I started to run after him and I realized that was dumb — I’m 90 years old and I can’t run anymore.”

So instead, she got into her car and tried to drive after the person who’d taken her purse. He went across the street and he lost her cutting between two houses.

Barker then went straight to the RCMP detachment to report the theft.

In her purse, she had her chequebook, bankbook, credit cards, bank cards and driver’s license. All would need to be cancelled and replaced.

Barker said the RCMP officer she dealt with was very helpful and took the time to explain the steps she would need to take.

“I had that all cancelled within a half hour,” said Barker.

“It’s hard when you lose all your credentials, you’ve got nothing to prove who you are,” she said. Thankfully, the thief did not manage to use the cards, however.

Barker also lost over $400 in cash which she had in the purse.

Within a week she had new credit cards, but she is still waiting for a replacement driver’s license.

While the RCMP did call to tell her they had picked up a man who had her credit card in his pocket, she has not gotten any of her lost belongings, cash or identification back. RCMP report there was insufficient evidence to lay charges in the case.

The incident has become a learning opportunity for Barker, and changed how she behaves.

“I’m much more aware when I go shopping now,” she said, noting she watches who is around her and will not be leaving her purse in her car with the door unlocked.

“I never have, except for if I’m close to the buggies,” she said, noting the thief may have been watching her waiting for just such an opportunity.

Since the incident, she has been telling other women she knows to help warn them, noting she is surprised how many women do the same thing she did, leaving their car door unlocked with the purse in the vehicle while they return their cart.

“You just feel that it’s right there, you’re not going very far.”

Sharing her experience she said has helped convince many women not to take this risk any longer.

The incident also has her being more careful in other ways, ensuring she locks her door when she goes out, even if just for a few minutes.

Barker continues to share her story with the hope she can help keep other women and seniors safe.

She has lived in Williams Lake since 1959.