Cedar Rapids police this week are asking for the public’s help in nabbing a shopper who’s helping herself to the wallets of others. More than one unhappy customer’s called police to say a wallet or purse was taken while they were in the store, and police officer Jeffrey Ilton says they have security video of the suspect, following one theft that resulted in a shopping spree with the stolen plastic. The suspect got hold of a woman’s billfold and he says within one hour she’d charged more than $800 in merchandise. Officer Ilton says you’re probably more likely to be a target of thieves during this busy season for errands and shopping. He says people have a lot on their minds and are paying attention to their shopping list, not the purse, and he sees people leaving a purse unattended in a cart while they walk around, or leaving it open so someone can reach right into it. To prevent a crime of opportunity while you’re shopping, Ilton recommends leaving the purse at home and carrying a light load of plastic. He suggests taking only the credit cards you need, and not every one you own. List the credit cards and numbers you might need if they ARE lost, as officer Ilton says you’re only liable for fifty dollars if you promptly reported the theft. Another piece of plastic that could put you at risk is that debit card, so handy for getting cash from an A-T-M.As he puts it, “Don’t flash the cash,” counting your money to check if the machine was accurate while some stranger watches you. If you buy some gifts and go back for another round of shopping, police warn not to make your merchandise an invitation for some burglar who spots it in your car. He says in the back seat, people will see it, and any crook who sees you throw it into the trunk can break in rather earily, so get into the car…and drive around to park on the other side of the mall, so they’ll think you’ve left. The officer also recommends you remember where you parked and not waste time wandering or rummaging for keys before leaving the shopping spot for home.
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