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Pickpockets target shoppers in Columbia

Police officials are warning shoppers because a group of criminals is hitting the aisles of Columbia’s stores.

“Pickpockets that are coming by, distracting the women and then actually grabbing their wallets out of the purses while they’re distracting the women with questions,” said Bryana Maupin with CPD.

Police said multiple pickpocket incidents in different stores around Columbia have been reported since mid-February. Officials said the thieves mainly target elderly women. In most cases, the victim had a purse sitting in the shopping cart’s child safety seat.

“I would encourage to have either a zipped purse or having a purse that snaps, so it’s not sitting there open inside the shopping cart — that is obviously easy access and it’s very simple to get distracted in a store and then turn away for one moment and you’ve lost everything,” said Maupin.

The investigation has turned up, what police believe to be, the suspects getaway car. Police released a photo showing a dark newer-model minivan — a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country.

Police are not releasing any suspect information at this point. They encourage anybody with information about the case to call Crimestoppers at 875-TIPS.

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