Crime Watch 8

Theft suspects targeting elderly shoppers in Greenwood

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — An 82-year-old woman who lost thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes is putting out a warning to help others.

“It makes you feel so vulnerable,” said Bev. “You see all these warnings on TV before, why did I do that?”

Now Greenwood police said they need help to catch the thieves who targeted her. It’s a crime of opportunity that detectives tell WISH-TV is on the rise.

Bev has lived in the same home off Smith Valley Road in Greenwood for 55 years. For safety reasons, we’re not providing her last name.

But when she made her weekly trip to Meijer on Saturday afternoon, she got more than she bargained for. A man approached and asked her for help to read if there was sugar listed on a bottle of juice.

“My husband had been diabetic and I was very sympathetic so I stood there trying to read the small print on the juice drink,” Bev said.

Meanwhile, the man’s accomplice grabbed the wallet from her open purse, blocked from Bev’s view by the man.

She said she didn’t feel like anything was wrong at the time.

“No, I didn’t know till I got to the checkout line,” she said.

Police released surveillance video of two people they believe are the thieves.

Take a good look. The man doesn’t have his mask on as he walks out of the Sam’s Club on Emerson Avenue.

Police said they made two credit card purchases here, one for $2,900 and a second for $3,500. They also made a $500 buy at Walmart before Bev thought to cancel her cards as soon as she got home.

The total damage was more than $7,000.

“I think they’re despicable,” said Greenwood Assistant Chief Matthew Fillenwarth. “There’s plenty of jobs available in the country if you want one right now.”

Greenwood detectives said this type of crime is on the rise.

It doesn’t take long. Thieves know the clock is ticking before the victim knows.

“Even at a place where you feel the safest, that’s where your predatory criminals go because they know your guard is going to be down,” Fillenwarth said.

It’s what happened to Bev who volunteers her time with several area causes and just got back from her sewing circle when she talked with WISH-TV Thursday afternoon.

“If you’re a person that likes to help people, somebody comes up and ask you for help, you kind of do it,” Bev said.

That’s why she wants to remind everyone to be careful, to keep your purse zipped up and on your shoulder.

For her part, she can’t help but be a little more suspicious the next time someone asks for help.

“It does, you’re trying to look sideways,” she said. “I may not be going to the same grocery store for awhile because I have a bad feeling about it.”

Greenwood police echo Bev’s reminder to always be aware of surroundings.

Bev said she had just been looking at her coupons and forgot to zip up her purse afterwards.

Anyone with information about the suspects in the video are asked to call Cottongim at 317-887-5619.