BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – Saying she just reacted, the wife of Belleville’s mayor chased a group of suspects who stole her purse Sunday night.

“I spontaneously ran after them because I didn’t know what else to do,” she told KMOX.

Rita Eckert was loading up her minivan beside her florist shop on West Main when four young men approached her. She said she didn’t think much or it.

The van’s back hatch was open and her coat and purse were laying on the passenger seat. When the group of men passed one reached over, grabbed her purse and took off running.

“I’m yelling ‘they stole me purse!'” Eckert said she then just ran after them because she couldn’t think of anything else to do.

As she ran, she managed to call her husband, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, who happened to be three blocks away.

Eckert also tried to flag down a car for help. She said they didn’t stop for her, but the driver saw the men running and called 911. Within minutes police caught one suspect, a 21-year-old from Collinsville, Ill. who had Eckert’s credit cards. Her purse was found Monday morning.

“I knew I had credit cards in it, I knew I had personal things I just didn’t want to loose. I know how hard it is to replace that kind of stuff,” she said.

Police continue to investigate the incident.


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