Thefts from Shopping Carts Alert
Perfect Targets for Thieves - Senior Citizens
This alert was provided by Officer Kim Jones with the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department
The reason distraction thieves focus mainly on senior citizens is because they are more trusting of strangers and less likely to engage in a physical altercation with a thief if he or she is caught in the act. Distraction thieves mainly target women because most carry handbags, which are easier to steal, and it’s easier to take a wallet from a handbag than pick a man’s pocket. In supermarkets and major discount stores, women tend to put their purses in shopping carts. Distraction thieves generally look for large handbags that are open at the top. Zipped handbags or those that have a snapped fold-over flap are usually avoided if the thief only wants a wallet. However, distraction thieves have been known to take the handbag if they can’t get only the wallet. It only takes a matter of seconds for distraction thieves to get your handbag or purse and leave the area.
How Thieves Operate Inside Stores
One distraction thief approaches a likely target, always from an angle that forces the soon-to-be victim to turn away from her handbag in a shopping cart to address the stranger. The thief will ask the target a seemingly innocuous question; possibly for an opinion on a product, where a certain item can be located, or another question that will divert the victim’s attention for a few seconds. During that amazingly short amount of time, the distracter’s accomplice will dip into the target’s handbag, remove the wallet, cell phone, credit card, checkbook, and anything else of value, and slip away. Most victims never see the accomplice, and by the time a victim realizes the loss, both thieves are long gone.
If you carry a handbag when shopping, use one that has a zipper or snap-flap closure. More importantly; never let your bag out of your sight especially when it’s in a shopping cart. If you turn away from your shopping cart for any reason, pick up your handbag and hold it in front of you. A handbag with a shoulder strap is a good choice, but never let the bag hang on the side behind an arm because a stealthy pickpocket can easily remove your wallet. An ideal method of preventing theft would be to carry cash, credit cards, and a driver’s license in a front pants pocket.
In today’s society, it’s a shame that good citizens have to remain alert even in the most mundane of everyday situations, but crime is a reality and law-abiding citizens need to be aware at all times.
If you are victimized, call the police immediately and give a detailed description of the thief or thieves. Also, notify management if you are inside of a business. Besides dealing with the monetary loss to distraction thieves, as soon as possible, the victim should notify his or her bank and credit card companies. Then the victim has to deal with replacing his or her driver’s license, insurance card, vehicle registration, and any other important piece of identification that was stolen.
Unfortunately, victims of distraction thieves have little chance of retrieving their stolen property, so the best way to keep from becoming a victim is to be ever-vigilant and on-guard. Be wary of strangers, no matter how “normal” they seem. Professional thieves prey on the kindness of others.
Dahlia, Ed Kuhn (?), National Capital Dahlia Society Show, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland USA IMG 3109
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Photograph by Roy Kelley
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
Roy Kelley and Associates
Roy Kelley, Associate Broker
Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)
6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
Main Office: 301-258-7757 (You will not reach me at this number)
Send an email message if you need my phone numbers. I will be happy to recommend a real estate professional if you are moving to the area.