Police Warn of Pickpockets at Wegmans, Panera Bread

Several people have had their wallets lifted in South Jersey recently, including multiple incidents at different Wegmans and Panera Bread locations.

Cherry Hill Wegmans surveillance photos

Photos via Cherry Hill Police Department

Police in Cherry Hill yesterday released images taken from surveillance footage of two people they suspect of stealing a woman’s wallet from her shopping cart at Wegmans.

The incident took place on January 18th. One of the alleged thieves, cops say, distracted the woman with a conversation while her counterpart swiped the wallet from her purse. They then rang up $1,150.39 in jewelry at the Cherry Hill Kohl’s. Yes, thousands of dollars in jewelry from Kohl’s.

This is not the only pickpocketing incident in South Jersey recently. On Monday, Mount Laurel police say a woman’s credit cards were stolen from her purse, which was hanging on the back of her seat at the Panera Bread. Nor was it the only Wegmans theft: That same day, cops say a woman had her wallet stolen at the coffee shop in the Mount Laurel Wegmans. Her purse was also hanging from the back of her chair. Both victims had their cards used at multiple stores.

The incidents this year follow several in South Jersey late last year. In one case, a woman had her wallet stolen from Panera. It was used to make $14,337.90 in purchases at the Nordstrom and Apple Stores in the Cherry Hill Mall not long after. There were several other pickpocket crimes reported in November and December as well (not all were at Panera or Wegmans, though some were).

All of these pickpocket cases share a similar m.o. Some of the pickpockets remove the wallet from a purse sitting on the back of a chair. Or the thieves work in a pair: One distracts the victim with conversation while the other steals from an unattended purse in a shopping cart.

The Mount Laurel Police Department posted several tips to avoid pickpocketing, all of which basically boil down to not leaving your purse unattended in your shopping cart or on the back of your chair. (Also, watch out for thieves lifting your wallet from your back pocket.)

Pickpockets tend to use these distraction techniques rather than “old style” ways of theft, police told the Inquirer in 2013. “You don’t see the skilled professional as much anymore — the classic bumps, the hug-and-lift,” Sixth District commander Capt. Brian Korn told the paper. Man, people just don’t have any respect for history.

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