RALEIGH, N.C. — Police in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary and Granville County are investigating a string of thefts from cars at day-care centers.
Terry Weiss's purse was taken from her unlocked car at a north Raleigh day care three weeks ago. Within an hour-and-a-half, the thieves charged more than $2,000 on her credit cards.
"I actually drove halfway to work and realized my purse was missing," victim Terry Weiss said. "You just think it's a safe environment and it's really not."
Raleigh police are looking for Jeffery Winters and Yvonne Byrd in connection with the theft from Weiss' car. Byrd is also wanted in a theft from a car at a nearby day care. Police are investigating more than 15 similar crimes in surrounding areas that may be connected.
Raleigh police Crime Prevention Officer Derrick Hicks said parents are good targets because they are distracted.
"People often take advantage of opportunity," said Officer Derrick Hicks, of the Raleigh Police Department. "You're more focused as a parent of getting to day-care on time, dropping your child off and getting on the inside safely. Frequently, they leave the keys in the vehicle with the vehicle even running."
Chriscynthia Jones said she left the car running because it was cold. Not only did Jones leave the keys in her car when she dropped off her baby at the day-care last month, she left her 7-year-old son in the car. Jones' son watched a woman steal his mother's purse.
"He started crying, saying 'Someone took it and left,' and that's when it hit me something had happened. I was shocked and scared," he said.
Both Jones and Weiss said they have changed their habits. They lock their doors and Jones said she always takes her 7-year-old inside with her.
Police said it is also important to look around at who is in the parking lot. In several of the cases, witnesses said a man and woman pull up in a car without a child.