Thieves Go on $12,000 Shopping Spree
Two men and two women rack up more than $12,000 in purchases with stolen cards.
Thieves stole an elderly woman’s wallet earlier this month and racked up more than $12,000 of purchases on her credit cards within two hours.
Scott Township police said two men asked the 76-year-old woman to check in the bathroom for one man’s daughter while at the Panera Bread restaurant on Greentree Road on Jan. 15. When she agreed to help them, one man hugged her and squeezed her tightly while the other man apparently pulled a wallet out of her purse, Scott police Sgt. Jeff Skees said.
“He said, ‘Oh, thank you, thank you!’” Skees said. “At that point, the other man put his hand in her purse and took her wallet.”
The South Hills-area woman, whom police did not identify, went into the bathroom and found no one there. When she came outside, the men had left with two other women in a car.
“She thought it was weird when she came back out and the guys were gone,” Skee said.
Within two hours, the four people went to seven stores in South Hills Village and Village Square malls and bought $12,253 worth of merchandise and gift cards, Skees said. Among the items they purchased were $1,000 worth of champagne at the Wine & Spirits shop, a $2,700 computer from the Apple store and high-end thermostats from The Home Depot.
Skees questioned why none of the store clerks asked for identification that would have stopped them from making the purchases.
“You buy a $2,700 computer with a credit card and they don’t ask for an ID?” Skees said. “(The clerks) would’ve seen they weren’t 76 years old.”
Investigators think the theft is related to a similar incident that happened moments earlier at a Starbucks coffee shop in Collier Township. Investigators said a person stole a woman's wallet out of her purse and then tried to buy items at the Walgreen’s in Heidelberg. The clerk there, however, denied the purchase and the woman with the credit car immediately left.
Skees said the woman realized her wallet was missing while at Panera and immediately contacted her credit card companies. But she did not have the card numbers, so she was not able to cancel them until later in the day when she went home.
“She’s upset about it, but because of the investigation and because she canceled everything, she’s not held liable for it,” Skees said. “The stores are really the ones that are out. Their employees should have checked ID.”
Police identified the suspects as two black men in their 30s or 40s, and two white women in their 20s or early 30s. Anyone with information on their identities is asked to call the Scott Township Police Department at 412-276-7725