SoCal thieves distract shoppers, steal wallets

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El Segundo police are warning the public about a ring of thieves who distract shoppers at stores and then make off with their wallets. (KABC)

El Segundo police are warning the public about a ring of thieves who distract shoppers at stores and then make off with their wallets.

Surveillance video caught a man quickly grabbing a distracted woman's wallet from the shopping cart and walking out.

"Suspects are very bold," El Segundo Police Det. Luke Muir said.

For a year, El Segundo police have been tracking a ring of three to five distraction thieves who have been targeting women at Whole Foods and home goods stores.

Their technique is always the same. Two to three suspects follow a victim around. One suspect then distracts the victim, while the other steals the wallet.

Within minutes of grabbing wallets, they're racking up thousands of dollars on the victim's stolen credit cards, buying gift cards at Target.

Police say a female suspect has been involved in the last four reported cases. A man always in a newsboy cap is to blame for six thefts in El Segundo and is also linked to a string of similar crimes in Thousand Oaks.

Investigators are warning women not to leave their purses in shopping carts and are asking for the public's help in catching the brazen criminals.

"Everybody is at risk. Until they get caught, they're just getting bolder and bolder and they're going to keep doing this," Muir said.

Anyone with information is asked to call El Segundo police at (310) 524-2263.

Related Topics:
surveillance videotheftEl SegundoLos Angeles County
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