Cary, N.C. — The holidays bring out the shoppers – and the thieves who target them.
In Raleigh, for example, police have responded to 12 reports of wallets stolen from shopping carts in the past 60 days.
One Apex woman said she never thought she would become the victim of two thieves who worked in tandem to steal items in her purse. Now, she is telling her story in the hopes of helping others be aware of sneaky thieves as the head out to do their Black Friday shopping.
“I felt extremely violated,” said Debbie Hatt, recalling her trip to TJ Maxx in Morrisville.
She was shopping when a woman she didn’t know approached her.
“She was holding two jackets, asked me to try on the jackets,” she said. “I was the same size as her mother.”
Hatt reluctantly agreed, turning away from her shopping cart and the big purse she left in it.
“She was very distracting,” Hatt said. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first. I thought it was a little odd, but I didn't think much of it and I turned and continued shopping.”
About 45 minutes later, she realized another person had swiped her wallet, checkbook and cellphone, leaving her purse behind.
“When I got to the check-out, at first I had a hard time believing, there's just no way,” Hatt said.
The thieves sped to Crabtree Valley Mall and used her credit cards to buy $20,000 in computer equipment before Hatt could cancel her cards.
“Even when I talked to Apple, they didn't think it was fraud when someone used three different credit cards seven different times,” Hatt said.
Fortunately, the credit card companies covered the losses. But Hatt’s made it her mission to warn other holiday shoppers.
“I just felt very violated,” she said. “But at the same time, I've learned that this is very wide spread.”
She advises women to keep their purses close, and don’t lose sight of potential thieves in the fog of shopping.
“They're distracted, looking for bargains and they're not paying attention to their belongings and it's going to be an easy target,” Hatt said. “Hopefully, people will listen up and close up their purses so this won't happen to them.”