Police: Suspects Distracted Women Before Taking Their Wallets

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    NEWSLETTERS

    One woman was arrested and a man is wanted in a string of thefts at Washington-area grocery stores. In most cases, the suspects would distract a female shopper and take her wallet and credit cards. News 4's Chris Gordon reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013)

    A man and a woman distracted women shopping in grocery stores in order to steal their wallets, according to Anne Arundel County police.

    The suspects then used the victims’ credit cards to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of retail items, police.

    One victim told News4 how her wallet was stolen from her purse.

    “As I was talking to her, I felt someone sort of brush up against me and I turned and there was a gentleman there very uncomfortably close to me,” she said. “So I looked down … my mistake I had left [my purse] open.”

    More than $2,000 was quickly charged on her stolen credit card.

    Montgomery County police helped Anne Arundel police identify Karen Steelman and Kenneth Harris as their suspects, and the jurisdictions partnered in executing a search warrant at their home at 9005 Cheval Lane in Upper Marlboro, where they recovered more than $50,000 in fraudulently purchased merchandise, numerous victims’ credit cards and identification, and two handguns, police said.

    Detectives linked Steelman to six cases in Anne Arundel County beginning in February 2012, police said.

    Steelman and Harris also are suspected in similar cases in D.C.; Arlington, Va.; and Gastonia, N.C., police said.

    "We were able to find out that these particular suspects were linked to thefts and pick-pocket schemes as far south as North Carolina and as far north as Anne Arundel County and everywhere in between -- Virginia and Washington, D.C.,” Anne Arundel County police Lt. T.J. Smith said.

    Both face numerous theft and credit card offenses in Anne Arundel. Charges are pending in other jurisdictions.

    Anne Arundel County police suspect there are more victims of the credit card theft scheme than have reported that they've had their wallets stolen. Police suggest if it happened to you to give your local police department a call.