Police Identify Stroller Bandits, Still at Large NR11288pv

June 24, 2011

Los Angeles:  Detectives received several tips after publicizing the faces of two women caught on video stealing wallets out of baby strollers on June, 9, 2011.  The tips identified both women by name:  Bertha Dona Vargas, 55, of West Covina; and Norma Lizette Reyes, 51, of Los Angeles.  They remain at large, and are believed to be professional pickpockets and thieves.

“We are grateful for the tips so far,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Detective Division.  “We have served search warrants on both their homes, but both have made themselves scarce.  Now we need the public to let us know where they are hiding.”

Tips poured in immediately after news outlets aired the video, and in less than 24 hours, detectives had both women identified.  Two of the tips came from other police officers who recognized Bertha Vargas and said she was a professional pickpocket.  

“Vargas, the one seen taking the wallet, had been arrested for the exact thing we saw on the video,” Lt. Vernon said.  “I guess it’s a matter of crooks can’t change their MO anymore than a leopard can change its spots.”

On Wednesday, detectives served search warrants on homes in West Covina and in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles.  Both women remain at large and are probably holed up with relatives or friends in the area.

The women’s images were captured on video at a swap meet at 530 South Los Angeles Street where they worked in concert to steal a wallet from the baby stroller of an unsuspecting mother.  Her 23-month old baby was in the stroller at the time.

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.

Video and photos of the suspects are available for release to the media.  Prior release number NR11259pv