Purse returned to owner 14 years after theft

When UWPD officer Wendy Matsuyama responded to a call of found property last week, she didn’t expect to be wrapping up a case from 14 years ago.

Matsuyama went to retrieve an item that had been found in the ceiling of room 143 in Kincaid Hall by maintenance workers.

“I was expecting it to be something small, not the purse I found sitting on a desk,” Matsuyama said.

Matsuyama went through the purse and found that the credit cards and other items all seemed to be dated during or before 1997.

“That’s when I thought, ‘Maybe this was stolen,’” Matsuyama said. “It looked like they just took out the cash and left everything else.”

Matsuyama looked up the person whose ID was in the purse and discovered the woman was a former UW employee now living in California. The owner of the purse had it stolen from under her desk in the UW Medical Center, Matsuyama said.

The UWPD also found the old theft report.

“Because of how our police record system is set up, we were able to go back and find the original case report,” Steve Rittereiser, commander of the Office of Professional Standards for the UWPD, said. “The officer was diligent in finding the report.”

Matsuyama said the owner of the purse was shocked, but excited to hear the UWPD had found her purse.

“The one thing she wanted to know was if her daughter’s immigration card was still in the wallet,” she said. “It was sentimental to her. And it was [in the purse].”

Rittereiser said that it’s not too often a theft case gets solved after such a long period of time.

“You always kind of wonder what happens to things like this when they get stolen,” Rittereiser said. “It’s nice to solve the case even if it’s 14 years later.”

Reach reporter Sarah Schweppe at news@dailyuw.com.

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