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Modesto Police Department News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Heather Graves, (209) 652-0514
Release Date: Friday, March 21, 2014, 6:45:00 PM

Purse Thieves Caught



Release Date: March 21, 2014 

Modesto Police Department

Media Relations Unit  

Office of the Chief of Police

600 10th Street, Modesto, CA 95354

Author: Heather Graves


Modesto, CA – Modesto Police Officers catch purse thieves and put an end to their valley crime spree.


On March 20, 2014, at about 1:09 PM, officers were called to the 1700 block of McHenry Avenue to investigate a robbery in progress, with the suspect fighting with employees.  When officers arrived, they took Kellia Howard, 26-years-old of Ceres, into custody for the robbery.  Howard indicated she was not alone in Modesto and led officers to her father, Augustine Melena, 44-years-old of Ceres, at a nearby hotel. 


During a probation search of Melena’s vehicle, multiple stolen purses and wallets were located.  Officers were able to determine that the duo’s crime spree spreads from Davis to Turlock.  It appears Howard would enter the employee area of a business to steal purses.  It is unknown at this time what role Melena played in the thefts.  Howard was arrested for robbery, burglary, violation of probation and six warrants.  Melena was arrested for two warrants.      


Detectives are following up on leads to identify other victims from property located in the suspect’s vehicle.  They ask for anyone who has had their purse stolen from a business to contact the Modesto Police Department or their local law enforcement agency.    


If you have any information regarding this incident, please call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.  Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.  Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637.  Just type “TIP704” along with your message.


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