For women, a purse holds a lot: wallets, keys, checkbooks and personal information. It can be dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. In the past year, nine purses were stolen while their owners were distracted in grocery stores and the Charles County Sheriff's Office is reminding women to closely guard their purses, never leaving them unattended or letting them out of their sight.
In many cases, someone usually an older woman has approached the victim and initiated a conversation. While the victim was distracted, an accomplice stole the wallet or purse from the victim's shopping cart. Sometimes the victim did not notice her belongings were missing until she attempted to pay for her groceries. The suspects went on to use the victims' credit cards often buying gift cards, which can be difficult for police to track.
"This type of theft has been increasing throughout the region. The thieves are targeting women, who generally have more important things on their minds than keeping an eye on their purses," said Det. Caroline Baker, who investigates financial crimes for the Sheriff's Office.
While most of the thefts have occurred in grocery stores, the Sheriff's Office warns it can happen anywhere. "The biggest problem is not with the loss of the purse and it's contents, it's the possibility of what the thieves can do with all of the information they now have access to," said Det. Baker. "The best thing women can do is limit the thieves' access by paying attention to their surroundings and keeping a grip on their purses."
The Sheriff's Office also suggests women and men alike make copies of the front and back all the credit cards they carry with them and keep the copies in a safe place. In the event the cards are stolen, they will have access to important telephone and account numbers so they can notify the credit card companies of the theft.