Rocky River Police on the hunt for purse picking suspects

Purse picking team steals thousands from shoppers

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio - Rocky River Police are searching for three woman who are part of a purse picking ring that is targeting unsuspecting northeast Ohio shoppers.

Denise Avila was victimized while shopping at a Cleveland grocery store. Police confirm one of the suspects distracted Avila, while a second suspect reached into her open purse at stole two credit cards.

Rocky River Police told the crooks used the stolen card to ring up more than $3,000 in unauthorized charges at several stores in three states.

Avila warns consumers that they should never take their eyes of their purses .

"It's disgusting, you just never know what people are going to do, you just always have to be on guard," said Avila. "It's sad, I was just shopping, that's all I was doing. I was there for ten minutes."

"They went to Dillard's, they spent $300, they went to Dick's over $300. They went to Outback and they spent $400. They also went to grocery stores."

Rocky River Police Lieutenant Larry Stalter is urging shoppers to keep their purses and wallets closed and secure at all times.

"Absolutely keep it zipped up and don't walk away from your cart.," said Stalter. "When I shop at the various grocery stores, I'll walk down the aisles and see a cart with the purse wide open right in front of me.

"The shopper is 50 feet away chasing one of her children that's loose in the store, totally oblivious to what's going on. She'll come back and her wallet is all of a sudden gone."

Police obtained surveillance pictures of two of the suspects as they were shopping at an Acme store in Akron and the Dillard's at Great Northern Mall.

Rocky River Police are asking anyone who might have information on the suspects to contact the detective bureau at 440-331-1234.

Avila is now going to keep her purse zipped and her wallet closed no matter where she is shopping.

"I just didn't have my purse zipped up," explained Avila. "Everybody is always in a hurry, I have this wallet that is always open inside my open purse for easy access for me to get in and out. Apparently it's easy access for everybody."

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