SALEM — First, they followed her around the store. Then, in the pasta aisle, they struck, police say.
As one chatted up the 32-year-old woman, asking her advice on which spaghetti sauce to buy, the other hovered behind her cart, then filched her handbag and walked away, police say.
Robert Soye III, 24, of 9 Little’s Lane, Peabody, and Jason Robinson, 27, of Lynn are now facing charges of larceny from a person after the incident at Market Basket in Salem Saturday night.
Both were ordered held on $2,000 cash bail by Judge Robert Brennan following their arraignments yesterday in Salem District Court, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges, court documents show.
When officers arrived at the store in response to a call from an employee, they found Soye and Robinson inside a 2003 Cadillac, which was surrounded by store employees and the woman.
The woman said that just before officers pulled up, Robinson handed back her purse, which was missing a pack of cigarettes.
Inside the store, the two men, whom she did not know, appeared to be following her, with Soye making several attempts at starting a conversation, she said.
In the pasta aisle, she stopped to talk to him about the sauces. She noticed Robinson standing behind her, at times joining in, then saw him leave. She continued speaking to Soye for a couple of minutes, she said.
When she turned back to her cart, she realized her black purse was missing.
She immediately told a manager and an employee, who looked at surveillance video and saw Robinson take her purse.
They caught up with the pair in the lot as they were getting into the Cadillac, police said.
Soye had been pushing a cart of groceries around the store but abandoned it at the entrance when he left. He told police he left the cart there because he’d forgotten his debit card, but police found several credit and debit cards in his wallet, police said.
Also found in the car were a hypodermic syringe and a spoon, items used for “shooting up” heroin.
The two were ordered to have no contact with the woman and to stay out of Market Basket while the case is pending.
They are due back in court April 30.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.