Police arrested a 19-year-old accused of stealing a woman’s purse off her shoulder near Ten Women Gallery on Montana Avenue Tuesday morning. Warlys Ernest Jimenez is charged with robbery and remains in jail on $50,000 bail. The woman was not hurt during the strong-armed robbery.

The victim immediately flagged down a passing car and asked the driver to call 9-1-1. The driver not only called the police but also continued to follow the suspect while providing updates to Public Safety Dispatch on the man’s movements.

Police caught up to the suspect five blocks away on the 800 block of 7th street, near the Starbucks Coffee and Chase Bank. The suspect took off running and officers gave chase. The suspect was eventually arrested in a nearby alley. Officers recovered the victim’s purse.

Jimenez could not be reached for comment. He was listed as a runaway juvenile in a 2015 missing and unidentified persons report from the California Department of Justice.

Businesses and residents who live near the popular shopping destination have expressed concern over the perception of rising crime on Montana Avenue. Two jewelry stores have been robbed in recent months. The suspect in the most recent armed robbery on Feb. 28, 32-year-old Robert Art Abalov is still on the loose.   Abalov is accused of entering Curated Los Angeles with a suspicious device inside a paper bag and demanding merchandise before taking off. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded to the robbery and detonated a device left near the suspect’s getaway car. The surrounding neighborhood was on lockdown for hours during the incident while police searched for the suspect who ultimately escaped.

The president of the Montana Avenue Business Improvement District told the Daily Press merchants have asked for private security patrols along the street. Ryan Olehass expressed concern that the Santa Monica Police Department has not increased their presence enough after the high profile heists.

The North of Montana neighborhood has had private security patrols since 1981. The guards are paid for by a coalition of homeowners.

Santa Monica saw a 12 percent increase in serious crime in 2017, with 5,076 “Part 1” incidents, which include murder, arson, burglary, assault and grand theft auto. The spike followed a 5.5 percent increase in the same crimes in 2016. Property crime drove much of the increase, with 86 percent of serious incidents related to theft. There was also a 3.8 percent increase in violent crime year over year, a statistic that includes homicide, rape, robbery, and assault.

kate@www.smdp.com

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press