Here’s how Good Samaritans caught an Ocean Boulevard purse snatcher, cops say

Gnieski -
Gnieski -

Good Samaritans helped wrangle an alleged purse thief on the beach after he robbed a tourist on North Ocean Boulevard, police say.

About 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, a witness who captured the suspect flagged down a Myrtle Beach police officer while he was still holding the man, 27-year-old John Gnieski, according to an incident report.

The witness, an employee of a nearby business, told police Gnieski had just stolen a woman’s wallet and fled on foot to the beach before he was caught.

When officers met with the victim, a Virginia native, she said she was walking with her friend in the 900 block of N. Ocean Boulevard.

Gnieski came up behind her, snatched her pink Coach wallet out of her hand, and took off running through the alleyway next to the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove before continuing on the beach, according to police.

But the victim and her friend chased after Gnieski, yelling about the robbery as they ran. Two employees at Hurricanes Daiquiri Bar & Grill heard her yelling, and one actually joined in the chase while the other called police.

Witnesses told officers when Gnieski was about to be caught near the ocean water, he threw the victim’s wallet and its contents about 10 to 15 feet into the ocean, the report says. Inside the wallet was approximately $600 in cash, several credit cards, her driver’s license and her insurance card.

Unfortunately, her wallet and its contents could not be found.

The city’s surveillance cameras captured the incident and matched the victim’s and witnesses’ statements.

Gnieski is charged with purse snatching and damage to property because the victim’s wallet was lost.

Michaela Broyles: 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles