Sheriff: 103 purses, pocketbooks recovered from 'career criminal'

Published: Apr. 10, 2017 at 1:23 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2017 at 3:50 PM EDT
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(Source: Richland County)
(Source: Richland County)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff's Department says a career criminal has been arrested again and charged with snatching 103 purses and pocketbooks over a series of months.

David Rice has been charged in connection with at least 15 break-ins and more could be coming, according to Sheriff Leon Lott.

Rice was arrested after a search warrant executed at his home turned up the bounty of purses and pocketbooks.

RELATED: See photos of the items recovered in the incident.

Rice, according to Lott, is no stranger to this type of crime. Lott said Rice has been arrested and charged with breaking into cars on and off since 1988 to 2014.

However, sometime in February 2017, Rice started breaking into cars once again, Lott said. The sheriff said Rice had been breaking into cars all the way until Wednesday, April 5. He was arrested the next day.

Lott said Rice seemed to specifically target the Two Notch Road area and hit cars in gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, and college parking lots.

Rice, Lott said, also had a female accomplice who would attempt to cash checks or use credit cards found inside the purses and pocketbooks. That accomplice, Rice's girlfriend, has been identified as Mechelle Tolson Savage. However, 15 hair wigs were recovered from Rice's residence and Lott said she used those to disguise her identity while going to the bank to cash checks.

Tolson is not currently in custody.

Lott called Rice the very definition of a career criminal.

"He gets out and then you see what happens," Lott said. "He just goes on what we call a roll. He'll just start breaking into cars and he doesn't stop until he gets arrested. And then he'll go and do some prison time. And he gets out, he'll come back and start doing the same thing. When you talk about a career criminal, this is a career criminal. This is all he knows and it's all he wants to do."

Lott said Rice was also repeatedly released through the years.

"It's frustrating sometimes when we have to deal with individuals like this because we know what they are doing, what they're going to continue to do, but that frustration doesn't mean that we're going to stop going out here and pursuing them," Lott said.

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