NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are seeking a woman connected to string of larcenies using stolen credit cards to shop at 13 stories in two boroughs.
The case is a cautionary tale for people to be extra alert while shopping, since in this instance, the suspect swiped credit cards right from people’s pockets before swiping them for purchases at other stores, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
Shoppers outside one 34th Street store are reacting to the pattern holding their bags a little tighter.
“You can’t always expect the best from everyone, so it’s better to be safe about it,” said Brooklyn resident Jazmin Ivy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez just left Macy’s, another one of the spots hit by the shopping bandit. She’s deploying her safe belongings strategy.
“Usually I don’t like to have my backpack, I like to wear it like this in really crowded places,” she said, moving the pack close to her side. “I put my hand over it.”
“You don’t want to carry a lot of your valuables in backpacks,” said Mark Novak of Global Security Group. “Simply because you don’t have control of it, it’s very easy for someone to come up and unzip that.”
Novak is a security expert who spent 21 years as a detective with the NYPD. He says shoppers now need to be aware of their surroundings and choose their accessories wisely.
“A fanny pack, something attached to your body, handbags it is always recommended that you keep them in front of your body,” he said.
He also advised people to keep valuables out of back pockets.
Cell phones are among the loot the woman is accused of having stolen from shoppers. From June through December at stores including Zara and H&M.
She’s captured on camera multiple times leaving the stores. Police describe her as being 25- to 35-years-old, last seen wearing sunglasses and dark clothing.
She’s preying on areas with high pedestrian traffic such as around Herald Square where four of the stores on her list are one block away.