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August 16. 2013 9:10PM

Woman, 64, offers burly thief a fierce fight for her purse

MANCHESTER — Nidia Toker, 90 pounds and barely 5-feet-tall, didn't hesitate to go after the six-foot, muscular purse snatcher who made off with her stylish pocketbook that "contained my life."

Toker, 64, a native of Argentinian who became a U.S. citizen in 1998, said she didn't think of the possible danger to herself when she tussled with the robber over her purse. Afterwards, her two adult daughters, she said, weren't happy about what she did, telling her that the man could have had a knife or a gun, and no purse was worth her life.

"I didn't think. I just reacted," she said. "When I saw my purse leaving, I saw my life leaving."

The robbery happened about 10:40 am. Thursday. Toker, who is separated from her husband and whose only income is her monthly $475 Social Security check, was walking to the Currier Institute of Art, her woven brown bag accented with a large bow in a dark brown and white giraffe pattern tucked under one arm. In her other hand, she carried a paper tote containing all her personal and financial papers.

She said she could feel someone come up close behind her and then she was grabbed by the back of the neck. The man pushed her head down and automatically she raised both arms. In an instant, he had her purse and the paper tote.

Toker said she immediately grabbed for the tote, which ripped, dumping all her documents onto the ground.

The robber took off running with her purse and Toker ran right after him. She caught up to him in a nearby alley where he had stopped and was rummaging through her purse. He had her purple wallet, one she bought for herself on her birthday 10 years ago, and was tearing through it.

"Money, money, money, money," were the only words the man said, Toker recalled as she grabbed at her purse, yelling "No, no, no, no."

He shoved her to the ground, but Toker still kept trying to get her property back. The purse, she said, contained her life: the cell phone with all the numbers of her children and friends; a wallet with her daughters' photographs; the $2 lucky bill she had carried for years; and very little money because, she explained, she really doesn't have any.

The robber pulled out a leather case and she told him it contained make-up. He dumped the contents on the ground. He pulled out another leather case and she told him "make-up" and he tossed that to the ground. It actually contained her cell phone.

The man, apparently satisfied he got all the money out of the purse, threw it to the ground and fled.

Toker recovered her pocketbook, which also contained her eyeglasses, and her cell phone, which was undamaged in the incident. The wallet is torn, but still useable, although she would like to get a new one.

On Friday, she was nursing her injuries and said she felt like she was 95 years old. And, having gone through the experience, she now is afraid when she goes out. She has no car and her only way to get around is walking.

Police are looking for the robber, whom Toker described as Middle Eastern — Toker believes he was Egyptian — and in his 20s. He spoke with an accent.

He had short dark hair, was clean-shaven and wore a red T-shirt, black shorts and light-colored tennis shoes.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call police at 668-8711. Anonymous tips for cash rewards may be made through Manchester Crimeline at 624-4040.

pgrossmith@unionleader.com


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