SHOPPERS at a major retail chain have been warned about a new theft scheme that could cost them thousands if they’re not careful.
At Ralphs, a popular grocery store in the southern portion of the Golden State, shopper Cheryl Armstrong claimed she fell victim to the “distraction” theft method earlier in September, per Los Angeles’ KTLA.
The “distraction” theft method reportedly occurs with two criminals, one who targets and starts a conversation with an unsuspecting customer to draw their attention away from an unattended purse, bag, or wallet.
Armstrong explained that she had gotten her groceries from the Ralphs location in Anaheim Hills and unloaded them in the back of her car.
She then placed her purse on the passenger side of the vehicle and was about to get inside to drive away when an unidentified man allegedly shouted to stop her.
The shopper claimed the man approached her and said someone had scratched her vehicle earlier and that he had witnessed it.
“As I was starting to walk to put my cart in the corral, a man who was up there, towards the market, he said, ‘Lady! Someone bumped into your car with a trolley,’” Armstrong explained to the outlet.
According to her, the man approached and pointed out the scratches — seemingly distracting her from an accomplice headed to steal items from her purse in the passenger seat.
Surprised and confused, Armstrong told KTLA the situation was “very frustrating.”
The distraction theft scheme is supposedly an ongoing issue in Southern California, per the news station.
In Irvine, about 14 miles south of Anaheim, another similar situation took place at another Ralphs.
This time, it was caught on video, courtesy of the Irvine Police Department.
The clip showed an older woman shopping while her cart was left unattended nearby.
While she was looking away, a man quickly sifted through her purse to find her wallet before the shopper looked back.
The man quickly hid the item on the shelf to avoid looking suspicious, and both proceeded to leave the area.
A short while later, a woman who was allegedly working alongside the man came and grabbed the hidden wallet from the shelf.
Police are investigating both thefts and have yet to confirm any connection.
The man and woman involved in the Irvine theft are still at large, and those with information are requested to email Irvine Police at email@example.com.
Anyone with information on the Anaheim altercation should contact authorities at 714-765-1900.
The U.S. Sun has contacted Ralphs for a comment on the alleged thefts.
For more on retail theft, check out The U.S. Sun’s coverage of the major change Coles made to crack down on thieves.
The U.S. Sun also has the story on Walmart’s “dystopian” method of preventing theft in-store.