Crime alert: Pickpockets targeting women shopping alone

Updated: December 11, 2019 06:11 PM

Police detectives in at least eight communities across the Twin Cities are looking into a recent crime wave of female shoppers being targeted by pickpockets at area stores.


"There are groups, several groups taking advantage of our shoppers in our communities," said Capt. Nick Francis, Apple Valley Police Department. “They are preying on vulnerable folks."

Apple Valley is trying to track down a man and woman who they say targeted senior women shopping alone on Friday afternoon at stores on Cedar Avenue.

Police say the female suspect asked the victim a question to 'distract her' while the male suspect reached into the purse or bag left open in the shopping cart.

"Out of the goodness of their heart, they try to help someone who approaches them asking for help,” Capt. Francis said. “Then it turns into them losing their wallet and property right out of the cart."

Apple Valley investigators said in about a two-hour duration on Friday afternoon the duo stole from victims at two grocery stores, a fabric store and book shop.

"It's very scary that it's happening right here," said shopper Annie Vick as she headed into an Aldi where one of the crimes was reported. "I think you have to be more alert all the time, obviously this time of year there's more weirdos out there."

Other Cities Investigating Pickpocket Cases

The Eagan Police Department is investigating a case of a distraction pickpocket case from last week at a grocery store.

The department is releasing very few details due to it being part of an open “multi-jurisdictional” investigation, a department spokesperson said.

Last month, St. Anthony Police investigated the case of an 86-year-old woman who was shopping at the Cub Foods on Silver Lake Road when a thief took her purse, keys, cell phone and credit cards. She's out more than $400.

The department said that the late-November case could possibly be connected to others in the metro.

Blaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Monticello and Woodbury police departments are looking into recent similar cases of “distraction pickpockets," according to authorities.

Protect Yourself

An Apple Valley Police crime alert message suggests shoppers place their wallet in an inside jacket pocket or if you keep your wallet in a purse, wear it close to your body, rather than putting it in your shopping cart. It also suggests limiting the number of cards you have in your wallet and removing extra credit cards that aren’t needed. 

Apple Valley investigators are trying to identify the couple in the surveillance photos shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. If you can help, call their TIP Line at 952-953-2884

For more information, click here.

Connect with KSTP

Join the conversation on our social media platforms. Share your comments on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.


Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


Zimmerman woman paralyzed after missing window for urgent medical care during riots

2 suspects arrested in connection with hospital parking ramp shooting in Edina

Twins claim second straight AL Central title, face Houston in playoffs

NY Times: Trump paid $750 in US income taxes in 2016, 2017

Lawyer says officer thought Blake was trying to kidnap child

St. Croix County woman helps get vet care for neighbor's 60-plus rescue cats