Purse Snatchers Charged with Hate Crimes for Targeting Asian Women

For release on September 17, 2021

CONTACT:

Erica Cordero
Deputy District Attorney
Crime Strategies Unit
(408) 792-2458

Purse Snatchers Charged with Hate Crimes for Targeting Asian Women

Two men have been charged with dozens of purse snatches and robberies throughout the Bay area, including Santa Clara County.

The suspects – Derje Blanks, 23, and Anthony Robinson, 24 – have also been charged with hate crime enhancements. Evidence shows that the defendants targeted the victims because they assumed the women – who were almost all of Asian descent - carried cash.

The crime spree includes more than 40 incidents throughout San Jose, San Pablo, Hayward, East Palo Alto, Newark, San Leandro, Fremont, Campbell, Dublin, and Milpitas, with crimes still being investigated by additional agencies.

There are numerous incidents where victims were pulled or wrestled to the ground during the robberies. Some victims were injured.

The defendants will be arraigned today at 1:30 in department 24 in the Hall of Justice in San Jose. If convicted, they face incarceration. Other suspects are outstanding, and the investigation is ongoing.

“This dangerous criminal spree was solved thanks to the hard work of the San Jose Police Department,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “We will hold these defendants and anyone who worked with them fully accountable for their ignorant and destructive behavior.”

Beginning in late 2020, the crime spree included robberies and purse snatches that virtually all followed the same pattern: The suspects targeted Asian women, because – evidence shows – the suspects believed that Asian women don’t use banks. In some cases, the suspects used ethnic slurs to refer to their victims. The defendants would follow the women in parking lots to their vehicles, wait until the victim was inside her car, and either smash a window or quickly open a door to steal a purse off the passenger seat.

When the defendants were arrested last Friday, Blanks tried to flee in his car and crashed into an unmarked police vehicle. He then fled on foot and Robinson then got into the driver’s seat, tried to flee, and crashed into a vehicle, severely injuring a 2-year-old passenger.

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