Two men with Nevada County ties sentenced for purse snatchings in Reno area
Two Grass Valley men were sentenced recently in Nevada in connection with several purse snatchings involving elderly victims.
Dutch Robert Cooper, 33, was sentenced to a combined 29 years in prison for two different cases involving three counts of grand larceny, one count of attempted robbery and one count of burglary, according to a release from the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office.
Cooper was arrested on May 29 by Reno Police Department patrol officers after they responded to a vehicle burglary at a U-Haul company. He also was wanted on grand larceny charges for purse snatchings between March 2016 and January 2017 at several casinos. Cooper and Wallace Tarp, 53, from Grass Valley, reportedly targeted elderly victims and stole their purses from them while they were gambling. The victims’ bank cards were then used to get cash from other casinos before they were deactivated. Tarp was apprehended in February, extradited to Nevada and ultimately sentenced to five years in prison.
At Cooper’s sentencing, Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Travis Lucia argued for consecutive time for each count based on the fact that each charge reflected a different victim, on a different offense perpetrated at a different time and location. Lucia added that the case was essentially a crime spree where Cooper and Tarp targeted older victims. Lucia also pointed out Cooper’s extensive history of similar crimes involving theft.
In Nevada County, Cooper had a number of local misdemeanor and felony cases dating back to 2002 through 2013, including drug possession, theft and driving without a license.
He was arrested by Grass Valley Police officers in March 2016 after a smash and grab car burglary at Empire Mine State Park. The victim contacted police to say her credit cards were being used in Placer and Sacramento counties.
Later that night, the police department received a call from Jackson Rancheria in Amador County, after a couple tried to open a line of credit at the casino, using a female victim’s ID card and a check from her checking account. Cooper was questioned and then released after his female companion — later identified as Jessica Schenck — fled. A search of the couple’s residence uncovered property associated with identity theft that included mail, credit cards and checks in 10 different people’s names from around Nevada County, Reno and Sparks. Schenck subsequently pleaded no contest to identity theft.
A few days later, Cooper was arrested in South Lake Tahoe after he allegedly smashed a vehicle window in a casino parking lot. He was charged with identity theft, theft by false pretenses, burglary, elder abuse, criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property and maintaining a place for the use of controlled substances, and failed to appear in Nevada County Superior Court in January and then again in March.