Purses, wallets targets of car burglars

Rash of break-ins seen in Duval, St. Johns counties


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Northeast Florida has seen a number of recent cases involving thieves targeting drivers who leave their purses or wallets inside their locked cars.

There has been a rash of break-ins in which purses and wallets were stolen from several cars in Fruit Cove.

The same thing happened at Hanna Park recently. Three cars were broken into there 10 days ago.

The thieves use licenses from the wallets to trick bank tellers into giving them money from the victims' accounts.

Three women who were car burglary victims spoke to Channel 4, saying they never thought it would happen to them.

Many people like them get busy and don't want to carry their purses, so they think that hiding them in a car seat will be OK. But that's not so, regardless of whether people lock their car doors or not.

"I put my purse back here and I had it covered up with bags and a towel," said Sherrill Thigpen.

She said she never thought anyone would see her purse locked in the back of her SUV.

"They had to be watching me because I moved my car and I had it hidden," Thigpen said.

Thieves broke her window and stole her purse as she was watching her son play baseball at Mills Field in St. Johns County several weeks ago.

"My check books were stolen and they have been cashing my checks," Thigpen said.

She had nearly $2,500 stolen within a matter of hours from her bank accounts.

Detective Kip Brantley, of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, said crooks find ways to fool bank tellers into giving them money, such as dressing up.

One Jacksonville woman said she had her purse stolen while she was working out at Baileys Gym on San Jose Boulevard three months ago. She had $3,800 withdrawn from her account.

"I walked out to the car and saw glass all over the place," she said.

Another woman had thousands stolen from her bank account, too, when her purse was stolen from her car outside LA Fitness on Blanding Boulevard.

Investigators say surveillance images show women they say are part of the Felony Lane Gang.

"This person used my ID, my license and went right through drive-up banks on the other side of town within an hour, two different places and withdrew the money," one victim said.

Detectives with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office say that the thieves target four types of parking lots, in particular, day care centers, recreations facilities, fitness centers and ball parks.

Investigators suggest women come up with a plan before they get into the car. They should think ahead about what they are going to do with their purse when they get to where they are going?

If they're not going to carry it with them, then they should only bring the essentials, such as their license, cash and maybe a bank card.

About the Author: