JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A recent trend by thieves called "sliding" is when a crook enters an unlocked car at a gas station as a woman fills up her tank and then steals her purse.
It can happen to anyone in just a matter of seconds.
"That's what's happening: People are paying attention to the gas pump, not paying attention to the side of the door, and they're grabbing purses," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said.
For Jacksonville resident Shantay Owens, it's a huge wake-up call.
"Even though you feel like you're this close, I would have never imagined someone would be walking on the other side just that quick and would have been gone with my purse and all of my belongings," Owens said.
Belongings like wallets, credit cards, driver's licenses and much more are being stolen.
It happened to Channel 4's Ashley Harding.
"I had gotten to the gas station, I didn't realize that my door was unlocked, and the next thing I knew, my purse was stolen," Harding said.
Jefferson said bad guys look for people whose minds appear to be somewhere else.
"In my case, I was thinking about my upcoming wedding," Harding said.
Jefferson said you never know when someone may be watching you. You should always be on guard and looking around.
"For instance, while we've been doing this interview, a person has been standing around the whole time just watching us," Jefferson said. "He could be watching for vulnerability of a person. You just never know."
If someone does get your purse, you should do whatever you can to help police.
"Try to get a vehicle description, color and a tag number if at all possible," Jefferson said. "Call right away with that information."
Owens said this is the last time she leaves her door unlocked at the pump.
"Really a good wake-up call," she said. "I will be getting my keys, making sure I locked the door even when I'm just right here by the pump."
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