, Salem, MA

March 8, 2014

Lynn woman jailed for stealing handbags


---- — SALEM — A Lynn woman was sentenced to jail time yesterday after admitting she stole handbags from two patrons at a popular downtown Salem eatery, then tried to cash a check found in one of the purses.

Phylecia Rucker, 27, of Lynn pleaded guilty to three counts of larceny from a person, uttering a false check and attempting to commit a crime during a hearing yesterday in Salem District Court, just a month after her Feb. 7 arrest at the corner of Washington and Lynde streets.

Prosecutor Heidi Sylvanowicz said two women were sitting inside the Gulu Gulu Cafe on the corner of Washington and Essex streets when they realized their handbags were missing.

An employee recalled seeing another woman wandering around inside the restaurant, looking out windows, then leaving suddenly. She gave police a description, and a short time later police spotted a woman fitting the description about a block away. She was carrying three handbags.

Police then discovered that Rucker had filled out a check inside one of the women’s handbags for $450, payable to Rucker, and tried to cash it at Eastern Bank, which is across the street from Gulu Gulu.

Police also heard from a third person who reported that money was missing. Officers discovered that Rucker was carrying $328 when she was stopped.

At the time, she was out on bail in a shoplifting case from December, in which she allegedly stole nearly $150 worth of items from the TJ Maxx on Highland Avenue.

Sylvanowicz asked Judge Matthew Machera to send Rucker to jail for 90 days, with the rest of a one-year jail term suspended, and probation.

Rucker’s attorney said the month she’s spent at MCI Framingham has been a “very scary, eye-opening experience” and urged the judge to impose time served.

Machera sentenced her to a year in jail, with 45 days to be served and the balance suspended for two years.

He also ordered her to stay away from Gulu Gulu.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.