Police hunt trio targeting older woman at grocery stores

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Police all over metro Atlanta are searching for a trio of fast-fingered thieves who are targeting mostly elderly women.

On surveillance video from a Lawrenceville-area grocery store, Gwinnett County Police said a man quickly is seen removing an elderly woman’s wallet from her purse after his partner in crime distracted the victim.

Fayetteville Police told FOX 5 News it’s the same modus operandi used in Fayetteville where a 73-year-old woman reported she was victimized by the same thieves at an area Kroger.

“I’m still angry and I feel kind of dumb I let it happen,” said the woman who did not want her name used.

Fayetteville Police said the trio involved in the series of distraction thefts includes a Hispanic woman in her 20s, an African-American woman in her 40s and a white man 40ish or so.

“The crime itself generally occurs by someone being distracted, either by someone asking them a question in the aisle. They may tap them on the shoulder. It only takes a second,” said Captain Chad Myers, with the Fayetteville Police Department.

Melissa Crow told FOX 5 News she always protects her purse while shopping at the Fayetteville Kroger and other stores, more so after hearing of the fast fingered thieves targeting mostly elderly women.

“I think it’s sad they go and target women and elderly women,” said Crow.

The distraction thefts police said have been repeated in recent days in Fayetteville, Alpharetta, Newnan, Norcross Lawrenceville and Johns Creek.

Investigators said the trio has worn pretty much the same clothes each time.

“They may have the same jacket on same pants, a change in an undershirt or something to that effect,” said Captain Myers.

He said the trio by now has netted thousands of dollars after black market sales of gift cards bought with stolen credit cards.

“All it takes is a second and that’s why you have to be on guard 24-7,” said the elderly victim.

The cases which have occurred all over metro Atlanta are a Crime Stoppers case. Anyone with information is asked to call 404-577-TIPS. There could be a $2,000 reward involved and tipsters can remain anonymous.