The following story comes from EastIdahoNews.com. It is used here with permission –
IDAHO FALLS — Police say thieves are targeting unsuspecting shoppers at local stores.
The Idaho Falls Police Department said in a news release Wednesday that a person approaches the victims and distracts them by asking a question or striking up a conversation. An accomplice then comes and takes wallets from purses left in unattended shopping carts.
“In many past reports, the victim doesn’t realize their wallet has been stolen until they attempt to check out and are unable to find their wallet. In these cases, store security footage shows the scheme unfolding,” IFPD said in its news release Wednesday.
At Fred Meyer on Northgate Mile on Saturday, a man asked a victim who was shopping in the children’s clothing area for help. When the woman began helping the man, the second man reached for her purse — but the victim caught him in the act.
“The victim raised the alarm by yelling, but the man was able to grab the victim’s wallet from the purse, and both suspects fled from the store,” the news release reads. “The victim ran after them; however, the suspects were able to get in a vehicle and flee the scene prior to police arrival.”
Police have shared images of the suspects in the hope people can help identify them. Investigators say it is possible the suspects don’t live in Idaho Falls but come to the area for the thefts.
It’s not the first time in the past few weeks that local thieves have targeted shoppers in the area. In September, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office said deputies in Ammon got several calls of suspects following customers looking to take a wallet or purse from the shopping cart when a customer was not looking.
The Pocatello Police Department is also asking for help to find theft and fraud suspects who stole a wallet at Winco Foods in Pocatello. The stolen credit cards were then used at Walmart. One of the suspects in the Pocatello Police Department’s request for information is wearing the same clothes and shoes as one of the suspects in Idaho Falls’ case
With the scheme throughout the community, IFPD urges people to never leave their wallets, purses, debit cards, credit cards and other items sitting in shopping cars unattended.
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of one of these thefts is asked to file a police report as soon as they realized it occurred. Investigators also say take immediate action to secure financial accounts, cancel/freeze cards, and notify appropriate agencies.
Anyone with information about the thieves’ identities is asked to contact the Idaho Falls Police Department at (208) 529-1200.