PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — New details and clues came out Friday about a string of recent thefts happening in a Palm Beach Gardens shopping center.
It’s all happening while people are shopping. In many instances, it’s two to three people involved. One or two of them will distract you so you’re looking away, while the other is going through your belongings.
Palm Beach Gardens police released photos Friday of the people suspected of stealing several purses, wallets, and phones.
They are then using the cards to buy thousands of dollars worth of electronics and gift cards, most of which in Lake Park.
Nearly all the incidents happened at TJ Maxx, Trader Joe’s, or Marshalls in the Palm Beach Gardens Plaza, which came as a surprise to shoppers.
“It’s really shocking. I didn’t know anybody was over here doing that,” said a shopper named Terry.
Terry experienced firsthand what these criminals are capable of.
“It just sucks the breath right out of you. It’s just that moment of panic,” Terry said.
Her story is similar to others detailed in the nearly two dozen police reports.
“I had the cart right there with me, and to my left there was a man and a woman. And he was trying to get my attention. So I turned, and obviously when I turned I turned away from the cart. And he was holding what looked like a tag, but wasn’t really the tags that you see in Marshalls. And was speaking in Spanish and asking me questions and I told him I didn’t understand. What did he need? Do you need he price? And then basically he said gracias and walked away,” Terry said.
When Terry got to the counter, she realized her phone and wallet were gone.
“You think I know I should be careful. I know I shouldn’t do this or that. But we live in Palm Beach Gardens,” Terry said.
No arrests have been made, but Palm Beach Gardens police said they are looking into a potential match to a suspect recently arrested in Port St Lucie.
If you know who the crooks are, call the police department at 561-799-4445.