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Durham Woman Does Police Work, Looks For Thief Who Stole Belongings

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DURHAM, N.C. — When a thief hit one woman's car and stole her purse, she turned into her own private investigator.

Michelle Brief is not one to back down from a challenge.

"I think I'm a determined person," she said.

On Wednesday, she took her son into his day-care center and left her car unlocked.

"I came back and I noticed my car door was ajar and my purse, wallet and briefcase were stolen," Brief said.

After her purse was stolen, Brief called her bank and officials tracked down her ATM card to a convenience store. Brief then managed to get her hands on the store's surveillance tape.

"You know, the police are very busy and I knew that there must be a way to get a shot of him, and so I was trying to track everywhere he used the cards," Brief said.

After working with the bank and the store, she pinpointed the person trying to use her ATM card. She said the suspect tried two different codes and could not get the money out.

Brief gave the tape to police, but her detective work has continued. She has been busy looking in trash cans in the area to see if the thief may have dumped her belongings. She has also printed fliers to warn others to be on the lookout.

"I work really hard for what I have and why does he think he can just take it from me? Why do people think they can take other people's things?" she said.

Brief has no plans to give up her day job, but she said more people should get involved and that fighting crime needs to be a community effort. Investigators say while they appreciate citizens pitching in, they strongly advise people to let the police deal with tracking down the suspects.


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