FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A Good Samaritan is being lauded for helping out an elderly woman who was targeted by a purse snatcher in Fort Lauderdale. The purse snatching happened near NE 15th Avenue in Sunrise while the woman walked with her daughter through a neighborhood.

“I looked up and I saw her getting off the ground,” said Mike Spencer who lives nearby.

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When Spencer heard the victim scream for help while she was laying sprawled out in the middle of the street, he sprang into action along with the woman’s daughter. The woman was just knocked to the ground–and her purse ripped from her arm.

“I heard her crying and screaming, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, please help me, please help me!” Spencer said. “I got out of my chair and tried to sprint over there and we both ran just a little bit and he got away.”

Inside that purse was thousands of dollars. The 71-year-old woman who was carrying it just arrived from Italy and the money was for her family.

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The daughter, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, along with the mother, took the bus from Miami International Airport. They got off at NE 15th and Sunrise and it was only a couple blocks from here when they were robbed. The crook found thousands of dollars inside, what he did not find and left inside the purse, was several thousand more, inside a hidden compartment.

The victim and her daughter thought that money was long gone. What they didn’t know was someone found the purse and called police.

“I try to do the right thing, that’s how I was raised,” said Datsun Emmanual.

He found the purse a few miles away in his garbage can. He said he didn’t touch it, just called police. He had no idea thousands of dollars were still in it. But even if he knew, he said he still would have done the same thing.

“I didn’t know that,” Emanuel laughed. “(I was) just trying to be a Good Samaritan, that’s all.”

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Investigators are checking to see if this is connected to several other purse snatchings. If you have any information that can help, call Broward Crimestoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

Ted Scouten