Don't get bumped, jostled or distracted by thieves, police warn.
Women and elderly people are being targeted in wallet/purse thefts in the area, according to police reports. Information that is stolen has been used to create identities for the suspects, who also use the credit cards or checks immediately for large purchases.
Several groups of people are targeting victims in grocery stores, retail stores, office buildings and restaurants. Women are usually targeted in grocery stores while men are most often burglarized in retail stores or office buildings, according to police reports.
There are at least two different ways these groups operate to distract people, according to police.
In grocery stores, suspects have removed wallets or checkbooks from an open purse in grocery carts or have removed wallets or checkbooks from an open purse hanging on a shopper's back shoulder.
In other cases, well-dressed suspects have asked victims — usually an elderly person — to read a can label, to reach for an item or to engage in a conversation about a specific product, while an accomplice removes the person's wallet, purse or checkbook.
In retail businesses or office buildings, well-dressed suspects in elevators bump victims entering or exiting the elevator and remove wallets from the victim's pockets. Elderly men are often the victims.
Other suspects have pretended to look for a dropped contact lens or keys while an accomplice steals the victim's wallet. In these cases, a suspect often pulls on a victim's pants legs to distract the victim from noticing the theft.
Other suspects have dropped a handful of change and accidentally bumped a victim while another suspect removes the wallet as the victim looks at the distraction.