Man steals woman's purse at upscale Annapolis restaurant, takes off in her SUV, police say

(FOX 5 DC) -- Authorities are warning residents to be mindful of their belongings while out celebrating the holidays after they said a man stole a woman's purse at an upscale restaurant in Annapolis then made off with her SUV.

Annapolis police said the victim was out celebrating a birthday with friends at Blackwall Hitch in Eastport on Saturday when the thief targeted her.

"A bunch of people who were there left their things in a pile while they were talking and maybe on the dance floor. One of the people they were with saw someone standing near the things and thought it looked a little odd. He wasn't with their group," Sgt. Amy Miguez of the Annapolis Police Department explained.

Detectives said that's when the victim noticed her purse was missing and went out to the parking lot to discover her SUV was gone too.

An hour later, 35-year-old Pedro Nguyen was arrested after he was found in the stolen SUV parked a few miles away, according to investigators. Authorities warned others to be on the lookout this holiday season as that's when thieves will strike at opportunities to turn the giving season into the taking season.

"In the winter we do see sometimes a rise in thefts. Thefts of packages, thefts of purses and shoplifting because of the holiday season," Miguez said. "You don't need to leave your things unattended, especially if they are things that are really valuable to you."

Officials said Nguyen was already on Santa's "naughty list" with several theft charges on his record. He has been scheduled to appear in court in February.