The Tampa Police Department has seen a recent increase in the theft of purses and wallets at restaurants and shopping plazas. There has also been a noticeable increase in credit card fraud as a result of those thefts.
The most recent cases have occurred at local restaurants, where the victims have placed their purse on the back of their chairs. In two similar cases, one victim didn’t notice their purse was missing until they were leaving the establishment. In another case, the victim remembers a “bump” against her chair before noticing her purse was stolen. The suspects are believed to be responsible for multiple incidents with a similar pattern.
Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects. Linked is surveillance footage of the suspects: https://youtu.be/WZ02B49jr9U
“Thefts of this nature are a crime of opportunity,” said Chief Lee Bercaw. “The Tampa Police Department is encouraging the community to be mindful of how you store your personal belongings while you're out shopping for the holidays or out for dinner with friends and loved ones.”
Here are a few tips to keep your belongings safe, during and after the holiday season:
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Don't hang your purse on the back of your chair.
- Don't place your wallets or keys on the table.
- Don't leave valuables (including wallets and purses) in plain sight inside of your vehicle. Valuables should be stored in your truck and doors should be locked.
- Carry your wallet in a front pocket and/or utilize a purse that can be zipped closed.
- Keep valuables close to you and on your person.
Remember, keeping each other safe is a shared responsibility. If you see something, say something.
Anyone with information that could assist detectives is asked to call Tampa Police at 813-231-6130 or submit an anonymous tip by contacting Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS (8477) or via TIP411.