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Shopping Mall Swindler Targeting Customers At The Mall at Short Hills

One Victim Says She Put Bag Down To Buy Shoes Before Wallet Was Taken
Police in New Jersey believe this is the woman who has been pickpocketing unsuspecting shoppers at a local mall. (Photo: CBS 2)

Police in New Jersey believe this is the woman who has been pickpocketing unsuspecting shoppers at a local mall. (Photo: CBS 2)

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MILLBURN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A woman is using a New Jersey mall as a hunting ground for easy targets and turning a simple pickpocket into an illegal shopping spree.

Some would call her a shopping mall swindler — a woman walking the halls, casing the stores at The Mall at Short Hills in Millburn, then pickpocketing multiple shoppers in seconds.

It happened to “Alice,” who didn’t want to give her last name, but said she put her handbag down on a bench while buying shoes, and before she knew it, her wallet was gone.

“I was shocked. It was scary,” she told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.

“We don’t have any video of her actually reaching into the pocketbook, but we have the video of her leaving the store,” said Millburn Police Capt. Michael Palardi.

Milburn police said they’re convinced the woman, caught so clearly on camera, is in a ring targeting the mall at stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom for more than a year. It happened most recently last weekend.

“She’s taking the wallets and immediately going right to the next door within two minutes,” said Palardi.

Police haven’t been able to say exactly how many victims there are because so many people don’t file a police report. They simply cancel their credit cards and move on.

But “Alice” said while she was calling her credit card company, the suspect was already shopping.

“And they were like ‘Oh somebody just made a purchase’ and it was like within 10 minutes possibly,” she said.

The turnaround from thief to casual shopper happened so fast and police haven’t been able to catch the woman.

“Alice” said she blames herself.

“I would not normally put my bag down, that’s number one, you don’t put your bag down,” she said.

Most of the purchases made with the stolen credit cards were jewelry and high-end clothing.

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