Rockford Police Warn Public of Pick-Pocketers

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- You might want to check your credit card statements, because there's a big ring of pick-pocketers out there stealing wallets and targeting women.

Police say this is becoming a big problem. You are in the grocery store, you’re looking around, and the next thing you know, your credit cards are gone. The thing is, they leave the purse, so it might be hours before you realize anything is missing.

Police say the thieves are immediately using the stolen credit cards to buy gift cards and prepaid credit cards. Then, they start spending your money right away. Police have caught many of the suspects on video.
To prevent these thefts from happening to you, you should never put your purse in your shopping cart and don’t ever leave your purse on the back of a chair.

"I always buy a purse with a longer strap for two reasons just because it's always on me and i don't leave it in the cart and also just because it keeps my hands free to carry things,” said Lisa Gramer from Stillman Valley.

If you recognize any of the people seen in the photos above, please call Rockford Police or Crime Stoppers.

The thefts are also happening in places where there’s free Wi-Fi. People who are distracted with other things, tend to be easier targets since they forget to pay attention to their surroundings.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Over the past several months, the Rockford Police Dept. have been investigating a series of thefts that have resulted in the use of stolen credit cards.

Victims have had their purses or wallets stolen while dining in local restaurants or shopping in local grocery stores. Many of the incidents have occurred at places that offer free Wi-Fi services or other locations where patrons are distracted by other activities. The suspects have also targeted women who place their purses in shopping carts and then direct their attention toward shopping.

Typically within minutes of the theft, credit cards contained in the stolen purse or wallet, are used at local retail establishments to purchase large amount of gift cards or prepaid credit cards. Many times the stolen credit cards are used before the victim realizes that they have been stolen. Usually on the same day and within hours of the theft the gift card or prepaid credit cards are used at retailers in the greater Chicago area to purchase merchandise.

The description of the suspect(s) varies from incident to incident, however investigators have been able to obtain several surveillance videos of the suspects. Detectives are asking that anyone with information regarding these incidents contact the Rockford Police Dept. (815/987-5824) or Crime Stoppers (815/963-7867).

Members of the community are also reminded to maintain control of all personal items when in a public setting. Wallets and purses should not be left unattended in shopping carts or hung on the backs of chairs while dining. In addition, the Rockford Police Dept. recommends that individuals check with their specific financial institutions to explore other security options for their credit/debit cards.

Still photos obtained from surveillance videos of the suspects can be seen by clicking on the photo above.

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