Thursday, June 9, 2011
Beware Mothers, Stroller Bandits on the Prowl NR11259pvLos Angeles: Los Angeles detectives released photos and video of two women acting in concert to steal wallets from baby strollers as unsuspecting mothers shop in the Los Angeles downtown area.
“Surveillance video from a swap meet at 530 S. Los Angeles shows how the thieves, two middle-aged Hispanic women, first size up their victim, which in this case was a mother with her 23-month-old toddler inside a stroller. Her husband is seen standing nearby,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Detective Division. “The thieves’ actions are tells to their intent.”
Then, working together, they begin to distract the mother until the woman with longer hair, in white, can sidle up to the stroller and grab the wallet. This, as her accomplice in the tan shirt stands to block the mother from seeing the wallet being taken.
“We’ve identified a trend in these kind of thefts over the last several months and we want shoppers to be more aware,” said Lt. Vernon. “While the crime may seem minor, it’s scary because the victim’s child is so close and vulnerable.” Detectives suspect the two women live locally and encourage anyone who recognizes them to call police immediately.
All shoppers, especially mothers with strollers, should be leery about anyone who approaches them or attempts to engage them in crowded swap meets, stores, or outdoor bazaars. Female shoppers should keep wallets and valuables in purses, zippered shut, and preferably over their shoulder. Never leave valuables or purchases on top of strollers.
Victims have reported about six thefts from strollers by women in the downtown area over the last six weeks. The two suspects depicted in the video may be responsible for other thefts, but detectives believe there are more than one set of thieve committing these type of thefts.
“Imagine a thief reaching into a stroller to take a purse, and the strap becomes tangled with the child as the thief tries to run away,” Lt. Vernon explained. “Forewarned is forearmed.”
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Det. Mike Mazzacano at 213-972-1231. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.