Thief Steals Purse, Goes on Shopping Spree

Small business owner says the thief also stole a donation for an orphanage.

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“It’s been extremely rough.”

Mona Aquino was talking about 2020. The owner of Pauly’s Pizza Joint in San Diego’s Miramar community said she had high hopes for 2021.

“I was hoping it doesn’t get any worse than 2020,” she said. “Then Wednesday happened.”

Aquino said sometime Wednesday evening, someone stole her purse out of her makeshift office inside her restaurant. She said she showed San Diego Police security camera video of her placing the purse in the nook. She said that same video only shows one customer go near her office. Aquino said the video showed a man ordering food while a woman goes into her office.

Aquino said she didn’t realize her purse was stolen until the following morning when she received several phone calls warning her about fraudulent activity on her accounts.

“I was too short to see anything,” she explained. Aquino was working behind the counter and couldn’t see who approached her office.

“It’s just been a mess. You know? It’s been a nightmare,” she cried.

Aquino said her purse contained all of her identification, pay roll, credit cards, access to her unemployment account, and emergency funds.

“My whole life was in that purse.”

San Diego Police told her they’d like to speak to the people in her security video. Aquino said whoever took her purse emptied her unemployment account, went on an online shopping spree, and stole a couple thousand dollars she had set aside to donate to an orphanage in the Philippines.

“I just want those monies back so that we can help people,” said Aquino.

All told, she said she’s out roughly $12,000, which is a huge amount after the struggles of 2020.

“I couldn’t imagine this happening to anybody with everything that’s going on," she said.

Surprisingly, Aquino said whoever stole the purse didn’t need to steal a thing.

“They could have asked for help,” she explained. “I could have helped them, but to take away pretty much my identity is a nightmare.”

San Diego Police could not confirm Friday evening whether the people in Aquino’s surveillance video stole the purse.

“It’s painful," Aquino said.

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