“You Cannot Imagine Our Surprise at Seeing that Purse that We Assumed would Never be Seen Again”

On 20 October 1991, a foggy day, Dana and Debbie Nance were driving from Orange County to San Francisco and decided to stop at Pismo Beach, California. They took a break and when they returned to their car they discovered that a thief had broken a window and taken Debbie’s brown Louis Vuitton purse, which contained cash and credit cards. She had placed it under her seat. They found a pay phone — this happened before the widespread use of cell phones — and Debbie called the police. Shortly afterward, a police officer — Louis Tanore — arrived. In an email, Dana wrote, “We assumed he was there to take a report. As he got out of the car, he asked if we had had a purse stolen, we replied yes. He then revealed from behind him my wife’s purse. You cannot imagine our surprise at seeing that purse that we assumed would never be seen again.” All of Debbie’s cash and credit cards were still in the purse. A resident named Bob — the Nances can’t remember his last name — had seen the thief break the car windows with his handlebars, take the purse, look through it, and start riding toward downtown. Bob followed the thief in the fog, and when they came close to the Pismo Beach Police Department Bob went in to tell the police about the theft. In an email, Dana wrote, “A radio call went out, and as luck would have it an officer about to pull out of a parking lot heard the call, just as a man on a bike with a woman’s purse hanging from his handlebars [passed] right in front of him.” Because of Bob, the police recovered Debbie’s purse and the Nances’ trip was saved. In April 2013, the Nances wanted to contact Bob, and so Cynthia Lambert of The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California) wrote an article about them. In an email, Dana wrote, “The reason I am writing this is in the hopes that Bob is still around and that he knows … we still think of him and his courage to step up and do something for a total stranger. If Bob is no longer around or with us, I want his friends and family to know.” The Tribune did contact Detective Louis Tanore, who since 1992 to 2013 has worked for the Santa Maria Police Department. Detective Tanore said, “I don’t remember too much about it. The only thing I remember was a guy on a bike with a purse hanging off the handlebars — that sticks out. I appreciate them [the Nances] thinking about it after all these years.”

For Further Information: Cynthia Lambert, “Couple looking for Good Samaritan who saved their Pismo trip in 1991.” The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California). 30 April 2013 


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