Overland Park Police warn about distracting pair stealing shopper’s wallets

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park police say some cunning thieves are checking off items on their holiday shopping list while using other people’s wallets.

All five of the victims the past few days have been older women who left their purse in their shopping cart.

“It doesn’t take long, it doesn’t take long at all,” Overland Park Police Officer John Lacy said.

Peggy Cheek, 89, stopped off at an Overland Park store near 119th Street and Metcalf with her purse in hand Thursday to get a couple of last-minute ingredients for her corn chowder.

“That morning I was going to be there 15 minutes. I put (the purse) in that little tiny basket and didn’t think another thought about it,” Cheek said.

“While I was trying to find what I was looking for, some lady came up.”

She says the woman struck up what seemed like a friendly conversation. Cheek would later learn it was just a distraction so someone the woman was working with could steal her wallet out of her purse.

"Everything was together with a rubber band, they got my Medicare cards, insurance, driver’s license,” Cheek said.

“The people are coming up to the cashier to pay for the merchandise, look inside their purse and the wallet is missing,” Officer Lacy said.

By the time Cheek went to cancel her credit card someone had already rung up $240 dollars at a convenience store. Police say the pair used stolen credit cards over the weekend all over the metro.

Right now they only have a photo of the woman suspected of taking part in the scheme. The woman police are looking for is described as having bleached blonde hair, glasses, possibly in her late 40s.

Even if they catch her and her partner, police expect these type of crimes to ramp up as we get closer to Christmas.

Officer Lacy says the best thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings, and keep your purse on you and zipped.