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'I WANT my purse'
Westmoreland County woman uses technology-and guts-to get back her stolen purse

 Deborah Lamb and her sister-in-law tracked down her purse after it was stolen from a Fairfax theater.
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Date published: 7/31/2012


When police said they couldn't help her retrieve her stolen purse, Deborah Lamb took matters--and technology--into her own hands.

The Westmoreland County grandmother used an iPhone application to track down her phone, which was in the front pocket of her Fossil handbag.

Then she knocked on a stranger's door at 2 in the morning as her sister-in-law, Diane Moore, videotaped the whole incident.

"I didn't ask if he had my purse," recalled Lamb, who's 57. "I said, 'I WANT my purse.'"

In the background, Moore shouted: "Give us the purse, the police are on the way"--even though they weren't.

The man who answered the door, to a nice townhouse in a Fairfax County subdivision, wore nothing but his boxers.

To Lamb, he said, "Yeah, yeah, I got it," and went upstairs to retrieve the purse. He mumbled something about how she'd left it at the theater, in the City of Fairfax, and that he planned to mail it to her.

Lamb and Moore got out of there.

Then they checked the purse, which Lamb said contained items valued at approximately $20,000, including about $300 in cash, credit cards and the title to her 2000 Cobra Mustang, which she had with her in case she needed to get a loan.

"I got everything back," Lamb said. "I think it's incredible."


In the days since then, people have told Lamb she was crazy, that she might have been shot by the man on the other side of the door.

She's stuck by her response: "If you knew everything in your life was in that purse, you would have done the same thing."

Plus, she said she and Moore aren't your average middle-aged women. Lamb was a police officer and jail guard for 5 years, though she suffers a lot of pain from a disabling back injury and has several screws in her spine.

Moore recently was diagnosed with breast cancer. She also had an unrelated operation recently on her esophagus. Things went awry, and she had to be cut open from her throat to her pubic bone.

Lamb said they've earned the right to be called scrappers and fighters.

"A lot of people were saying we were being reckless with our lives," Lamb said. "We've already been through hell. We had nothing to lose."

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