Thieves target shoppers' cars and purses at local malls

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 11/07/2013 12:51 pm Published: 11/06/2013 7:39 pm

Thieves are staking out shoppers in parking lots and then stealing their cars, purses and their sense of security.

It happened to a woman named Kacie. Last Sunday she had gone to Macy's to get a coat for her young son. After parking her Tahoe, she went inside and noticed a cleaning lady in the aisle nearby.

"I kneeled down and I sat the bag from the exchange down next to me and my small hand-held purse, and when I stood up my wallet was gone."

Frantic, she notified mall security and called to cancel her credit cards.

"Once we got the fraud department on the phone they did say that my card was being used currently," says Kacie.

Her husband ran into the store and caught the woman in the act. When he confronted her, she bolted out of the store and so he chased her.

"He did get her stopped in the parking lot and she handed him back my wallet, but told him that she had given the car keys and my ID to a second individual who was going to steal my car," she says.

The security guard promised her he would watch her car until police arrived. But the story doesn't end there.

Kacie says for some reason he left his post and a short time later, another thief in the group made off with her Tahoe and everything inside.

"My car, my ID, my keys and all the keys on my key ring, the $700 on my card, everything that was in my car he got," she says.

Maj. Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says this gang of thieves has a very specific way of doing things.

They work in groups and will target your vehicle when you pull into a parking lot. Then one member goes inside and pretends to be part of the staff.

"The lady portrays to be a worker like a janitorial worker and she engages one of the shoppers in conversation which lowers the shopper's anxiety about who that person is," says Clark.

In Kacie's case, she had only set her purse down for a second and in a flash it was gone along with her ID, keys, credit cards and later her car. Police think the thief was posing as the cleaning lady.

The thief charged hundreds on her credit card in just a matter of minutes.

"It was going to be about $1,000 total," she says.

The woman was later caught, but because she is a juvenile she was not arrested and later turned over to her parents' custody.

"These teenagers are working in concert and they're very organized," says Clark.

He says to always leave what you don't need at home while out shopping.

"You should only carry your ID and the things that you need for the circumstances of where you're going at that particular time," he says.

Kacie thought she was being careful, but in the end she lost more than she could have imagined in one shopping trip.

"I wasn't carrying a large purse and I thought that would be something that would help me not be a target, but even having just one credit card and my ID, they were able to get away with so much," she says.

Woodland Hills Mall general manager, Scott Budge released this statement when FOX23 contacted the mall about the incident:

"Woodland Hills Mall is committed to providing the best possible shopping experience, which includes maintaining a comprehensive security program. Consistently working closely with the Tulsa Police Department, we are fully cooperating with them as they investigate this matter."

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

karlschneider - 11/7/2013 9:02 AM
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So the 'teenager' gets off Scot-free? No wonder we're raising a generation of thugs and criminals.
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