Chitchat in the “aw, cute” realm distracted one grandmother long enough to make her one of several women who have been targeted by a group of bandits in Roseville, police said.
Police say they are anxious to learn who these thieves are and to catch them.
With the past month or so, police said, their department has detected a spike in purse and wallet thefts in the afternoon in restaurants and coffee shops.
“The suspects appear to be targeting females who sling their purse over the backs of their chairs,” a statement from police issued late last week read.
Detective Dennis Kim said Sunday that Roseville has taken eight to 10 reports of thefts of this nature since the beginning of October, most often “during the busy lunch hour.”
Roseville is not alone, Kim said. “I am aware that some suspects ... are suspected in similar thefts reported in other jurisdictions.”
The exact number of perpetrators is still uncertain, Kim said, adding that “we are still gathering information [about] how many are in each group, or if it is one large group committing all these thefts.”
Kim said each group may consist of “several individuals, each with a different job. ... It might be the focus of one suspect to steal the purse, while others commit subsequent credit card fraud.”
In the most recent theft in Roseville, a suspect distracted one woman by leaning over a chair where she had her purse hanging, police said.
“As the suspect leaned, she admired and complimented the victim’s 6-week-old grandchild,” the police statement explained. “Shortly after leaving the restaurant, the victim discovered her wallet had been stolen.”
The victim said the only person who came near her at that time was the suspect who spoke admiringly of her grandchild.
The woman then learned the suspect charged or attempted to charge several thousand dollars to her credit card accounts, police added.
Police have yet to say where specifically the crimes have occurred.
Anyone with information about these suspects is asked to call Minnesota CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or text “Tips 674” plus the tip to 274637.