The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. arrested a male suspect on Christmas Eve for allegedly stealing at least seven purses on different occasions at local grocery stores.

Officers arrested and booked 21-year-old Drake Pettersen at the Albertsons on Calle Real around 6:45 p.m. for outstanding warrants, burglary and forgery in addition to possession of stolen property, narcotics and paraphernalia. As of press time, Pettersen remains incarcerated in the Santa Barbara County Jail on $20,000 bail.

According to SBCS Public Information Officer Drew Sugars, local authorities received seven reports of stolen purses out of shopping carts at five different grocery stores in Goleta and Santa Barbara.

In each report, Pettersen allegedly swiped the purse while the victims were distracted.

“I do not believe the purse was ever ‘snatched’ out of anyone’s hands,” Sugars said.

Sugars said Pettersen returned several times to the same locations during his snatching stint.

“He did show that he was going back to the same stores,” Sugars said. “He was going back frequently, and in some cases he went back to the same store in the same day.”

Sugars said officers identified Pettersen while waiting at the scene of a previous purse robbery.

“Our patrol deputies were able to identify the suspect,” Sugars said. “They were at the grocery store seeing if he would show up and he certainly did.”

The sheriff’s dept. is currently investigating the incidents and may press further charges against the suspect.

Sugars said it is important for people to keep track of their belongings in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“Unfortunately, there are some people who will take advantage when given the opportunity,” Sugars said. “So, it is always recommended to secure your valuables and do not leave them unattended.”