FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. - It's happening over and over again in the middle of the day in areas of town considered safe. Investigators say a gang of thieves are watching women in parking lots.
Less than two weeks ago, several cars were broken into in Nocatee during a wedding and purses were stolen. Two days earlier, six cars were hit in Fruit Cove. And before that, three women had their purses taken from their vehicles at Hannah Park in Atlantic Beach.
It happened to a Clay County mom when she went to pick her son up from day care at 3 p.m. in Fleming Island. She left her purse on the floor in the front seat. She even covered it up so it couldn't be seen.
"I was inside for three minutes, five at the most, and came back out and saw that my window was busted," she said.
She doesn't want us to release her name because she's still afraid of the thieves, considering how much information they were able to get about her from the contents of her stolen purse. But she does want to make sure no one else makes the same mistake she did.
"They saw me get out and I didn't have a purse on me, so they assumed it was in the truck," she said.
They were right. A thief busted out the window of her truck and stole her purse. The Clay County mom says now the crooks know everything about her life.
"In my purse I had a calendar with personal information in it, things that you shouldn't carry," she said. "It probably took 30 minutes to do what they did and your life can change in an instant like that."
As Channel 4 has been investigating for months and warning people, thieves are targeting parking lots where women feel safe.
We spoke with another woman recently that had her purse stolen from a fitness center parking lot on San Jose Boulevard. She was parked at Mills Field in Julington Creek when her window was busted and her purse was taken.
Another woman who spoke with as was at the Rec Center off Brannan Field Road when the same thing happened to her. Day cares, like where our Clay County mom was targeted, are also popular targets.
"I came back here the next day and I sat over here, and I watched some of the people going in and no one had a purse," she said. "I just want to help people be aware that this can happen any time, any place."
If there is anything this Clay County victim is thankful for, it was her decision to pay for a fraud-protection service called LifeLock. She called LifeLock right after she reported the crime to deputies.
"They canceled everything for us, all in one phone call, so it was good to have," she said. "If something happens, they also get you an attorney to fight fraud. They put an instant fraud alert on your account where no one can do anything."
LifeLock helps not just if you have your cred and bank cards stolen, but also your driver's license. It's the stolen driver's license that the bad guys are using to trick bank tellers into giving them money out of the victims' accounts.
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