Las Cruces suspect accused of stealing, crashing 79-year-old’s car


Melanie Joy Perez (courtesy Las Cruces Police Department)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE)- A Las Cruces woman has been arrested after being accused of stealing a 79-year-old’s purse and car before crashing the vehicle.

The Las Cruces Police Department reports that on the morning of Tuesday, December 3, police learned that a 79-year-old woman was shopping at Albertson’s when a young woman approached her, asking the shopper questions. Authorities say at one point, the shopper looked away from her shopping cart and the young woman stole her purse, leaving the store.

Police say the thief then located the victim’s white Honda Accord in the store’s parking lot, stealing the vehicle as well. On Thursday, an LCPD officer saw the stolen vehicle near a motel on S Valley Drive when the car sped away from the area.

A second LCPD officer saw the vehicle crash later on near the 1100 block of S Valley Drive with the driver fleeing on foot. She was later apprehended by authorities.

The suspect was identified by police as 25-year-old Melanie Joy Perez and was arrested and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where authorities say she’s initially being held without bond. Perez is charged with felony counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, and criminal damage to property as well as misdemeanor counts of larceny, resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to notify the owner upon striking property, and driving while license is suspended or revoked.

LCPD investigators reviewed Albertson’s surveillance to determine Perez was the same woman who stole the 79-year-old woman’s purse. The victim’s car was totaled in the crash.

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