By Carey Codd

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PLANTATION (CBSMiami) – CBS4 News has learned that there has been a series of crimes involving women targeted at Publix stores in Plantation and elsewhere in Broward County this week.

Plantation police say there have been three cases in the past week of female Publix customers being targeted by two black men and a black woman who pepper spray their victim and steal their purse.

CBS4 News obtained surveillance video of a woman returning home to her Plantation neighborhood Wednesday night. Police say the car behind her followed her from Publix.

CBS4’s Carey Codd spoke to Charles Morehead, vice president of the El Dorado Estates neighborhood and director of security for the community.

“They followed the resident down the main thoroughfare, rear-ended her intentionally,” Morehead said. “When she stopped to check the damage to her car, the woman who was driving got out and began to apologize to get close to her, then maced her.”

At that point, Morehead says, two men pulled guns on the woman and stole her brand new car.

Last Sunday night, a woman leaving a Publix store on Sunrise Boulevard with her 10-year-old son encountered the criminals. Police say they pepper sprayed her and stole her purse.

Also on Sunday night, at the Publix on Peters Road and University Drive, a woman leaving the store was loading groceries into her car when she became a victim.

The victim in that case said she noticed a car pull behind her. A man got out, walked toward her and sprayed pepper spray directly into her eyes.

With her eyes burning, the robber stole her purse – with lots of expensive items inside – and got back into getaway car.

CBS4 cameras saw several Plantation police cars patrolling Publix parking lots Thursday evening.

Shoppers Codd spoke with said they’re taking precautions.

“We need somebody out protecting the older women,” said Jo Bridges. “I’m parking closer to the grocery store than I used to.”

“You have to be careful,” said Yvonne Heath. “You look at your surroundings before you get in your car and when you get in Publix and come out, look around just the same.”

Codd was told a fourth crime happened this week at a Plantation shopping plaza at Pine Island Road and Sunrise Boulevard.

A Publix spokesperson told CBS4 News they are cooperating with investigators.

They also recommended that customers park in well-lit areas, pay close attention to their surroundings and ask a Publix employee to help them get their groceries to their car safely.

If you have any information on these thieves and who they are, contact Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.

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