COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s a crime trend we reported on five years ago and investigators say it’s happening again. Thieves are stealing from unsuspecting shoppers in busy stores in the middle of the day.
”This woman wanted some help and I was turned away from my cart and I realized oh my gosh she was distracting me when someone lifted my wallet,” Beth Morin told News5 when she explained her recent experience.
She says this all happened in the middle of the day while she was shopping at TJ Maxx near North Carefree and Powers.
Placing her purse in the shopping cart, she showed News5 exactly how it happened.
”I was looking at a candle and smelling it and looking at different ones," said Morin. "I felt a tap on my shoulder so I just basically turned and talked to her for a few minutes and I couldn’t help her because I couldn’t understand her and then I turned back and I just noticed immediately my wallet was gone because it’s normally right on top.”
Once they got their hands on her wallet, Morin says the crooks worked to drain her bank accounts immediately, stealing at least $5,000 in the process.
Fortunately she got help from her bank to recover some money, but when she reported it to police she says she learned just how bad this problem has been recently.
”She said I was not the only one that this has happened to recently and that I was probably number four or five and in similar situations," said Morin. "I hate to say it, but people my age shopping alone and being distracted.”
After learning about her experience, the Chairman of Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers Don Addy told News5 his organization is now putting up reward money for information that leads to an arrest in her case or any others that are similar.
”Your criminal victim suffers from that incident for many many days or weeks," said Addy. ”Someone other than the criminal knows who committed the crime. We provide an incentive for the person who knows to call us and give us that information to us on a totally anonymous basis.”
In November of 2018, CSPD investigators were looking into a similar string of thefts, one of them even happening at the very same store as Morin's incident. At that time CSPD Detective Mark Garcia explained to News5 what concerned him the most when he went into the store.
”I counted 20 incidents in the store where the purses were left in the carts and the owners were not around. The purses were unzipped and I could’ve gone in and taken the wallet and the cell phone and they would’ve never known,” said Garcia.
If you have information that can help investigators you can always remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP or submitting a tip online.
In the meantime, investigators suggest wearing or hanging onto your bags and purses at all times while shopping. Also, do your best to be aware of your surroundings.
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