Woman arrested in grocery store purse thefts

Police: Jessica Mystkowski, 19, targeted elderly women

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Clay County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Jessica Mystkowski

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 19-year-old woman accused of stalking customers at grocery stores and swiping their purses was arrested Tuesday night.

Police said Jessica Mystkowski has been targeting elderly women in stores on the Westside. They said she followed them into the store, and when they turned away from their grocery cart, she walked up and snatched their purse sitting in the front part of the shopping cart.

Mystkowski then went straight to the nearest Winn-Dixie grocery store and used the victims' stolen credit and debit cards to purchase Visa gift cards, police said. She continued to purchase one gift card after another until the victims' credit and debit cards are no longer accepted.

She was apprehended by the Clay County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday and booked into the Clay County jail.

Channel 4's Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson told Channel 4 Tuesday night that there are ways to prevent these crimes from happening.

"In a grocery store, they are placing their purses in the basket, in the cart, it's easy, it's convenient and all females do it, for the most part," said Jefferson.

Jefferson said he believes this is a crime that is happening all too often and said he can't stress enough the importance of keeping a close eye on personal belongings while shopping.

"Don't carry a large purse into the store, if you don't have to, just carry your necessities, carry your credit card, your debit card and your ID in a small wallet carry that with you, keep that on your person if at all possible," said Jefferson.

Police said Mystkowski had struck multiple victims over the last 30 days.

Mystkowski is charged with grand theft and two counts of fraudulent use of credit cards.

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