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Rash of purse snatchings in Niagara Falls reported

NIAGARA FALLS -- A rash of forcible purse snatchings has recently been reported in the city, with one Tuesday and two more Wednesday.

A 42-year-old woman said that at 8 p.m. Tuesday her purse was snatched from her by two men as she tried to enter her home on 15th Street. She said the two followed her as she walked home from grocery shopping on Pine Avenue, then pushed her down and took her purse.

In a similar report at 8 p.m. Wednesday, a 43-year-old Packard Court woman said she had just finished shopping on Hyde Park Boulevard and was followed by two men as she walked from a parking lot into her home. She said the two men pushed her down and forcibly removed her purse. She said the two men left in a Dodge Charger. Her purse was recovered with $325 missing, police said.

A 44-year-old woman said her purse was taken when she returned to her car following dinner at a restaurant in the Seneca Niagara Casino just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The woman said she was in the Sixth Street parking lot preparing to shut her door and leave, when a man grabbed her purse from the floor and fled in a green car.


Boy, 14, charged for role in armed home invasion

NIAGARA FALLS -- A 14-year-old boy was charged Wednesday for his role in an armed home invasion on Pine Avenue in September. He is the second 14-year-old charged in connection with this crime.

The juvenile was charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, petit larceny and fourth-degree grand larceny.

A second 14-year-old, who is accused by City Juvenile Capt. Nicholas Paonessa of being the "main player in the robbery," was booked Jan. 6 on similar charges in connection with the robbery.

Both teens will be charged as adults for their role in the violent crime, Paonessa said in early January. Paonessa said at the time that there was an ongoing crackdown designed to stop a run of violent crimes by youths late last year. The two 14-year-olds are accused of forcing their way into the house while wearing black cloths over their faces and ordering the victims onto the ground. The boys then took a wallet, containing $420 and personal papers, and a cellphone.


Failure to receive summons delays Housing Court case

LOCKPORT -- The owner of the partially collapsed Peters Dry Cleaning store was scheduled for a Housing Court arraignment on building code violation charges Thursday, but he said he didn't go because he hadn't been served with a summons.

Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool told Judge Thomas M. DiMillo that he had sent notice to store owner Patrick McFall, but DiMillo said there was no such letter in the court file and adjourned the case for a week.

McFall said in a phone interview that he was not served even though his new store is less than a block from City Hall. "I'm not going if I'm not served," he said. "This is just part of the city's campaign to harass me."

One wing of his former store on Willow Street caved in Dec. 15. Since then, McFall and the city have been arguing over possible demolition. Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew E. Brooks said the city filed a notice Thursday seeking a court hearing on "the safety of what remains."


Falls burglary suspect arrested after chase

NIAGARA FALLS -- A city man accused in a home burglary was arrested after a police chase at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Henry R. Kranczyk, 54, of John Avenue, was charged with second-degree burglary, petit larceny, possession of burglary tools, fourth-degree criminal mischief, resisting arrest, reckless driving, failure to signal, failure to stop for a sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street and unreasonable speed.

He was arrested after he left his car on Robbins Drive near Sal Maglie Stadium after a pursuit through the city from Niagara Street and Monroe Avenue to Pine Avenue and 30th Street. A 68-year-old woman said she found Kranczyk in her 23rd Street home. The woman said he was shouting at her and threw a paper at her, telling her she was evicted, and accused her of trespassing.

She said she then returned with help and found Kranczyk carrying her computer monitor and Xbox. She said two televisions also were taken and two doors were broken.


Youth, 17, sent to prison for role in robbery, shooting

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls youth was denied youthful offender status and sentenced to six years in state prison Thursday for his roles in an armed robbery and a shooting.

Divine D. Maxwell, 17, of Whitney Avenue, had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and attempted second-degree robbery. Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas ordered two consecutive three-year sentences.

Maxwell and Taran A. Lewis, 22, of Welch Avenue, who was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison, teamed up to rob a submarine sandwich deliveryman in a Whitney Avenue house Jan. 23, 2011.

Also, Lewis shot a 16-year-old in the arm and leg with a shotgun April 4 on 18th Street, using a gun that had Maxwell's fingerprints on it, Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman said.