With the holiday shopping season getting ready to ramp up, the Evansville Police Department is warning residents, particularly women, about groups of individuals who are going from store-to-store looking for potential targets to rob while they shop.

A "Recent Uptick in Theft of Wallets and Credit Cards"

In a Facebook post on Monday, the Department issued a warning to residents regarding a "recent uptick in [the] theft of wallets and credit cards" nationwide that have made their way to the Evansville area within the last year. The statement says the thefts involve a pair or small group of individuals who walk into retail outlets targeting women and other individuals who carry purses and place them in their carts. For example, in the area where a child would sit. Once they find their target, one of the thieves will approach the woman and distract them in some fashion. While the distraction is taking place, another individual from the group walks up to the cart and steals the purse or takes the person's wallet. Once the victim realizes what's happened, the thieves are long gone and using their credit cards to purchase thousands of dollars worth of prepaid gift cards.

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The Department went on to say the thieves usually aren't from the area and travel the city to city committing the crime over and over again which makes them difficult to track and bring to justice. The Department says they are working with several stores in the area "and multiple federal agencies to catch these criminals and also make it more difficult to purchase large quantities of gift cards with stolen credit cards."

A thief trying to steal a handbag from a girl isolated on white background
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How to Prevent Yourself from Becoming a Victim

To help keep these thieves from making you their next target, the Department offers the following tips:

  • Take extra care to secure your purse or wallet while shopping. Even simply zipping your purse could be enough to deter some of these criminals.
  • Carry your purse or wallet on you while shopping
  • Never leave it unattended in your cart, especially if engaged in conversation by another shopper.
  • If you choose to leave your purse in your car, secure it in your trunk or somewhere else inaccessible to thieves who also target parked cars.

In the event you do fall victim to theft while shopping, the Department says you should immediately freeze the credit cards and contact 911.

[Source: Evansville Police Department on Facebook]

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If you hear sirens and want to know what's going on, EvansvilleWatch on Facebook is the best place to look. They do an excellent job of listening to the police scanner in the Vanderburgh and Warrick county areas and posting updates as they come in. Most of the calls are routine, but I found several that had me shaking my head!

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