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Man caught on video taking purse

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By Carol A. Clark

A local man was caught on security video removing a change purse from the counter at Metzger’s Mobil and placing it in his jacket pocket.Police issued a criminal summons Dec. 19 charging Marvin Baca with larceny. Baca, 42, did not show up for his arraignment this morning, and Municipal Court Judge Alan Kirk issued an order to show cause and said Baca, who is a locksmith at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is now facing a second count – failure to appear.“If he doesn’t show up for the order to show cause,” Kirk said this morning, then a warrant will be issued for his arrest.”The purse is described in court documents as “a black, leather Fossil-brand ladies’ wallet with zippered compartments.” It belongs to longtime Los Alamos resident Mary Stevenson, 86.Video cameras caught Baca slipping the small purse into his jacket pocket at about 1 p.m. Dec. 12. The video captures Baca pointing away from the counter and as the clerk turns, he takes the purse, according to court documents.Baca is seen on the tape paying for a package of cigarettes and leaving the store. Exterior cameras show him getting into a Nissan Xterra and driving away.Baca holds a security clearance because of the nature of his work as a locksmith. He worked in the S-5 security division at TA-48. It is not known if Baca remains employed, as calls to LANL were not returned by press time.Stevenson reported her purse stolen after she purchased gasoline for her car, according to court documents. She told Los Alamos Police Cpl. Bryant Cox that afternoon that she entered the station to seek assistance with the gas pump and thought she left her purse on the counter. Court documents indicate Stevenson said she had $100 in the purse and spent $20 on gasoline. Her purse also contained various cards.Cox and Det. Sgt. DeWayne Williams obtained copies of Metzger’s security camera videos Dec. 13. Det. Ron Binion viewed the videos and recognized Baca from prior arrests, unrelated to this case.Williams advised Baca of his rights and interviewed him at police headquarters. Court documents reveal Baca admitted taking the purse and that he said he placed it in the post office box at Sullivan Field “so that the Post Office could return it to the owner.Williams forwarded a still image to Baca’s former supervisor, who, according to court documents, recognized Baca. Baca worked for the man for 18 months until November when he began working for another supervisor.Williams also contacted LANL’s S-12 security division. S-12 launched an internal investigation and quickly located the purse in Baca’s work area. The purse contained Stevenson’s driver’s license, social security card, ATM card and medical cards – but no cash.Det. Doug Johnson praised S-12 for their efforts to “quickly and smoothly” help solve the case. “We really appreciate all the assistance we received from S-12 in working with us to rectify the loss of Mrs. Stevenson’s purse,” Johnson said.On Dec. 19, Stevenson identified the purse and contents as hers. She said the employees at Metzger’s Mobil all pitched in and replaced her $80 loss.“I really want to thank the wonderful people at Metzger’s for helping me because this is a lot of money for me,” Stevenson said in an interview. “I also want to thank the police, especially Det. Williams and Cpl. Cox for getting my purse and cards back. I don’t know why someone would do something like this to me but I’m so grateful to everyone for helping me.”