5 On Your Side

Distracted shoppers make easy marks for purse thieves

Posted December 5, 2013

Ladies, you're giving thieves an open door to steal from you, and you probably don't realize it.

5 On Your Side heard from a woman whose wallet was stolen right out of her purse as she shopped for her Thanksgiving turkey.

"I had turned my back to my cart, and my cart was maybe only 2 or 3 feet away from me," recalled Kacie Reading.

Shoppers reminded to guard against purse thieves Shoppers reminded to guard against purse thieves

Police say Cassandra Scott is the thief who stole Reading's wallet in seconds. Holly Springs Police Detective Mike Stone says Scott made a job out of this scam.

"She hit Apex, Cary, Raleigh and us. Many locations, many different times," Stone said.

Police say Scott snatched wallets from at least 19 area women since August. Security video shows Scott leaving stores after two crimes in Apex. Cary police also have security images showing Scott using some of the stolen credit cards.

Officers said Scott racked up almost $5,000 in charges right away, buying mostly untraceable gift cards.

There are plenty of YouTube videos showing wallet theft is a crime of opportunity that happens all the time. In one video, a woman quickly snags a wallet in a produce aisle. In another, a woman cases her victim, backs off, then moves back in to quickly grab a wallet and scoot out of sight.

Based on surveillance video, police believe Scott targeted Reading right away and followed her for about six minutes.

“After she had what she was looking for, she was out the door in 30 seconds. No running, nothing suspicious – just walked right out the front door,” Stone said.

Reading didn't figure it out until she went to check out at the register.

"It was horrible. You feel violated and angry,” she said. “You can't believe that this just happened to you."

Considering how much it does happen, Reading has a message: "Be aware of your surroundings. Watch your purse. Don't put it in the top if your grocery cart anymore. Keep it under your arm. You know, just be careful."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • IPayYouPay Dec 13, 2013

    Rachel: Then, as you call me I'm a perfect brilliant person. Anyone who even so much as turns away from their purse deserves to have it stolen. I myself keep driver's licenses, checking account debit card, and only 1 credit card (NO CASH!) in my jeans pocket when I go shopping. I'm not so hard up that I just have to have my sweet cute looking purse on my arm. According to you, I'm a perfect brilliant person and proud of it!

  • rachel Dec 9, 2013

    I don't get why the majority of these comments are scolding the victim-I appreciate that everyone out there is so smart they never do anything that a thief could take advantage of but come on-all you perfect brilliant people-how about scolding the thief?

  • KittenClaws Dec 9, 2013

    purse in the top with the front seatbelt on the cart and zip it shut.


    That still don't stop them from stealing once your back is turned.

    They will usually pass by someone who's bag is strapped and zipped or closed. It takes too long to open and makes noise to draw attention. It's those that don't close their purse (and there are lots of them!) who are the easy prey.

  • froggygirl Dec 6, 2013

    So many times I've warned ladies about this. They always say, "But I'm right here, just a few feet away."

  • Deb1003 Dec 6, 2013

    I've been shopping and come across women that leave their purses on or in the shopping carts. They are no where near their cart. For heaven's sake, protect your most important bag of personal identification! If you don't carry it in your pocket, it's out there for someone to steal. If you don't want to be a victim, don't set yourself up to be one!

  • 678devilish Dec 6, 2013

    purse in the top with the front seatbelt on the cart and zip it shut.


    That still don't stop them from stealing once your back is turned.

  • 678devilish Dec 6, 2013

    Ladies do it all the time. So it is their fault. Carry your purse/pocketbook in your own hand instead of leaving it alone in the cart. Use common sense ladies. The thief is watching you!

  • backhome Dec 6, 2013

    This is why I ALWAYS strap/lock my purse in the top with the front seatbelt on the cart and zip it shut.

  • shaunferriss Dec 6, 2013

    Why would you even think about putting your purse anywhere other than your person???

  • southerntalent Dec 6, 2013

    Beware of strangers making conversation to distract you while an accomplice takes your purse out of your open pocketbook in a shopping cart,it only takes a few seconds

    while they are asking about your kids and making small talk your wallet is gone