She was coming back to her Richmond District walkup apartment building with a girlfriend after the pair had gotten dinner when two young, masked men surprised them.
“One of the guys grabbed my shoulder and neck to try and get my purse,” said Erlandson’s friend, Danielle Ryan, 23.
The two suspects didn’t seem to have any weapons, but the startled women weren’t going to put up a fight, said Erlandson, who is also 23.
“They just kept saying, ‘Give us all your stuff. Give us everything,’ until we did,” she said.
Locked out of their apartment, the women followed up with police. But the officers turned up with nothing, and Erlandson decided their belongings were as good as gone.
Then someone in the Lower Haight neighborhood started calling people in the contact list in Erlandson’s stolen phone.
“He talked to a couple of friends of mine and my parents, who were scared,” Erlandson said, laughing.
Eventually the good Samaritan, who had been out for a jog, called Erlandson’s roommate, and the two women discovered their purses had been dumped near Scott and Divisadero streets.
Everything had been stolen from their purses except their credit cards and phones. In other words, anything that was traceable wasn’t touched, according to police.
“This kind of incident is very unusual,” San Francisco police Lt. Lyn Tomioka said.
Tomioka said it’s uncommon to hear about purse snatchings in the Richmond District, and that the robbers were probably teenagers just looking for cash.
She couldn’t say how the purses ended up in Haight-Ashbury, though.
“For young suspects, we find robberies can be consistent with bus routes,” she said.
Between them, Erlandson and Ryan lost $17, a pair of gloves, an iPod, and a string of pearls.
“I totally forgot I had a string of pearls in my purse,” said Ryan, who had worn them for an earlier event.
The women consider themselves lucky but will be more cautious when going out in the Richmond District, they said.
“The problem is we weren’t really doing anything stupid. I’ve been out later, drunker, and at sketchier times,” Ryan said. “But the experience has taught me to be more careful.”
Saul Sugarman, Bay City News