Sebastian Police warn shoppers of ‘distraction’ thieves

SEBASTIAN – Sebastian police officers have taken numerous reports of distraction thefts that are occurring in the presence of their victims.

Victims have described three heavy set black females that enter a variety of local grocery stores and select senior victims because of their purse and wallet exposed and unsecured, usually in the child seat area of the grocery cart.

All the incidents have been described as the same method of operation. The unaware victim is distracted by the suspect, usually asking a question about a product or directions to a location, all the while the victim who is trying to be helpful is being victimized by an accomplice.

The victim will be distracted and turn her back to her purse where the wallet is taken unknowingly. Items taken are common items in a purse or wallet such as: driver’s licenses, credit/debit cards, social security cards, cash, etc.

Unfortunately the items taken can expose the victims to future victimization such as identity theft, officers said.

All victims need to activate or initiate a fraud alert on their personal credit information. In addition there is no reason that anyone should carry his or her social security card on them, according to authorities. It is not a form of identification that needs to be carried around.

The three females have been observed on video working their distraction technique. Before the unknown suspects exit the store they are purchasing items at the same store. They are also making withdrawals from ATMs or leaving the area to make additional purchases at other locations to include gas stations and the Vero Outlet Mall.

The last few reports indicate that these suspects all arrive together in a black 4-door SUV type of vehicle. All the incidents have occurred around the noon hour.

One of the black females is reported to have short hair similar to that of a black male.

Many of the incidents can be avoided by being aware of surroundings, securing purse and wallet as well as keeping all belongings in sight at all times.

“Be aware of potential situations like the distraction thefts and watch out for each other,” Officer Steve Marcinik said.

All local stores and cashiers are asked to check for identifications on credit card and debit card purchases, which can help reduce the opportunity for crime to be committed and could significantly reduce fraudulent credit card purchases and thefts.


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