by Annitu Pattanik, OC
It might start something like this: “I’m hosting a party and know nothing about cheese, can you help?” Or “What kind of wine do you think would work best for a fish dish?”
Seemingly innocuous grocery store aisle conversation has made victims of multiple people in Orange County as thieves burglarize unsuspecting shoppers during routine grocery store trips.
The targets: Women who leave their purses in the child seat section of the grocery store cart.
The suspects typically work in pairs as one distracts a shopper with conversation, while the other waits for an opportune time to pick through a victim’s purse and walk off with their wallet.
“We have seen an increase in these types of thefts in multiple cities across the county,” said OCSD Undersheriff Don Barnes. “With the holidays approaching, stores are likely to be busier and shoppers are likely to be more distracted. We want to encourage residents to stay alert and aware and protect their belongings.”
Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators are encouraging residents to heed these tips when out shopping:
- Keep your cart and your belongings in view at all times.
- Make sure your purse is always zipped up or securely closed. For an added measure of security, use the child restraint straps and fasten them through the handles of your purse.
- If your purse must stay in the cart, pile some grocery items on top of it to make it a less desirable target.
- Re-evaluate whether you need to carry your entire purse into the store. If possible to only carry your method of payment, lock your purse in your trunk.
- When loading groceries into your car, don’t leave your purse unattended. Make your personal items the first thing you put in your vehicle.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t get into
conversations with someone you don’t know, and if someone appears suspicious, report it. drawn out
If you have seen any of the pictured suspects, please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000, press 9 then press 1.
For more information crime prevention tips, visit our Stay Safe OC webpage: ocsd.org/staysafeoc.