Thieves Target Elderly Woman Shoppers

$9,500 charged in cash advances, shopping sprees

Two women stole purse wallets from at least three elderly women in grocery stores and used their credit cards to make thousands of dollars in cash advances, La Mesa police said Wednesday.

The suspects, described as heavyset and middle-aged, are accused of stealing from distracted shoppers between ages 63 and 85 in a robbery series believed to have begun on June 3.

In the first known incident, a woman with medium-length, graying hair and reading glasses approached a 65-year-old San Diego woman shopping at Windmill Farms in Del Cerro.

The suspect allegedly distracted the shopper with a series of questions before stealing a wallet from her purse. Within two hours, the suspect created a false California identification card in the victim's name, and with the stolen credit card, made a $2,000 cash advance to a Chase Bank in La Mesa, police said.

About $500 in purchases were also charged to the card at an Office Depot in La Mesa.

On July 6, a suspect approached an 85-year-old woman at a Ralph's store on the 8800 block of Grossmont Boulevard in La Mesa. One suspect distracted the shopper, and a second stole her purse wallet, police said.

Cash advances totaling $3,000 were made in the hours following at the Citibank in La Mesa as well as $500 at the Macy's in La Mesa.

On July 8, the same suspect team victimized a 63-year-old woman shopping at a Von's store in Carlsbad, police said, stealing her purse wallet, located in her shopping cart, when the shopper's back was turned.

Within an hour, $3,500 in cash advances were made at the U.S. Bank and Chase Bank in San Marcos.

Crime Stoppers is offering an up to $1,000 reward for information leading to a felony arrest. Anonymous tips can be submitted online or by phone at (888) 580-8477.

 The investigating La Mesa Police Department can be reached at (619) 667-1400.

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