The man pulled up alongside a parked car at a Rohnert Park shopping center, got out, smashed a window, grabbed a purse and drove off.
The quick smash-and-grab unfolded in front of nearby undercover Rohnert Park police officers, reported Rohnert Park Sgt. Mike Bates.
It was about 12:30 a.m. Saturday and the officers were working on a teen alcohol sting operation at Safeway on Commerce Boulevard.
After watching the burglary, the officers alerted patrol and followed the suspect onto Highway 101.