Members of a crew of pickpockets who worked Lafayette with great efficiency, spending pilfered cash and credit cards on expensive clothes and other items, have had their spree halted by a Good Samaritan and dogged work by local detectives.
Followers of our police logs may have seen mention of thefts on recent logs. One case in particular, on August 10, ended up playing a critical role in breaking up the crew of thieves.
A woman shopping in a downtown grocery store that day reported that her wallet had been taken from her purse as she moved through the store. Investigators reviewing tape captured on the store cameras saw a group of four women following the shopper, the wallet easily accessible in the top of her shopping cart.
Later that morning, a Good Samaritan presented police with a cache of documents discovered along St. Mary’s Road at Moraga Road – all personal items belonging to the victim. A canvas of area cameras turned up a picture of the car the suspects were believed to have used the morning of the crime, “following” the car by camera images along the way as it got onto Highway 24.
Investigators tracked purchases made on the victim’s card, tracing them to a series of businesses in Walnut Creek, where several images of the four suspects were obtained as they used the victim’s cards to make more than $3,500 in purchases.
LPD Investigators obtained a photo of the registered owner of the vehicle and discovered the owner of the vehicle was one of the individuals who had made purchases using the stolen credit cards. An arrest warrant for the woman and a search warrant for her car was obtained an on August 19, the suspect and her car were located by police in Antioch, where she was taken into custody without incident.
Crime scene investigators processing the suspect’s car reportedly recovered a number of evidentiary items including several thousands of dollar in cash, gift cards, booster bags and hundreds of dollars worth of women’s clothing – with the security sensors still on them.
On Thursday, Lafayette police, Sheriff’s Office deputies, and officers from the Antioch Police Department conducted a search of the suspect’s home, reportedly recovering additional items of evidence linking the suspect to the Lafayette crime. Investigators have linked these suspects to a number of these types of crimes throughout the Bay Area.
Police say the women, whose names were not released, find an unsuspecting patron in a grocery store, removes their wallet from the purse when they are not looking or are distracted, and then flees the store for a quick trip to a local store to buy gift cards or expensive clothing.
Investigators are now working to identify the other members of the theft ring. Anyone with information regarding this or similar incidents are asked to contact our investigators at 94549Tip@gmail.com.