KINGSPORT, Tenn. - If you carry a purse, Kingsport Police want you to be on high alert. Officers recently arrested a woman for stealing purses and wallets from unsuspecting shoppers during the Christmas season. But investigators say this problem is getting worse.
A string of purse thefts and investigators believe those thefts were caught on camera. Kingsport Police say over the last few weeks they've been getting at least one report every day from victims. "And a lot of times they [victims] would place their purse in a buggy and they would turn to take an item off of a shelf and all of a sudden, they would look back and their purse was either missing all together or their wallet out of their purse was missing," said Detective Randy Murray.
Detective Murray says right now investigators are looking for at least two suspects and thefts like this are popping up all over Kingsport. Shoppers say their biggest concern is safety. "I take every precaution. I don't leave it in a buggy in the store, I always try to hold it in my hand if I'm unloading groceries," said shopper Margaret Halkaides.
Others worry about what can happen once their purse goes missing. "I'm aware that purses, cell phones, cash gets ripped off every day. So I think that we need to protect ourselves," added shopper Kathy Martin.
But this crime can be worse and can compromise your identity. "Your I.D. is being stolen and people can shop your I.D. online to other people. Credit card information is out there, not only the card but they can also sell the credit card number," said Detective Murray.
Which is why police say there are simple things you can do to make sure you're not an opportunity for a bold bandit. "Keep it [purse] secured, zipped, on your shoulder or on your arm and if you do place it in a buggy make sure that you maintain eye contact," added Detective Martin.
Detective Murray adds criminals can work in teams, one to distract you while another takes your belongings. Also, it's not just women that can fall victim, police warn men need to keep track of their wallets and be aware of their surroundings.