SOUTH MIAMI (CBSMiami) — South Miami Police are warning the public about serial distraction thieves who they say have targeted victims in their city and Plantation.
One victim tells CBS4, “I am very angry. They used every credit card in my wallet.”
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench has obtained surveillance video exclusively that South Miami Police say shows the group of four men and two women in a number of locations after the first victim, Neha Kapoor, was robbed of her wallet after being distracted.
Lead Detective Fernando Bosch says he is concerned that the thieves could turn violent.
“Something could go wrong during a robbery and we do not know if they are armed. I suspect one of them is armed,” he said. “Something could happen and based on what I have seen this could get ugly at any time. This is a very organized group and I want to stop this from happening. They are going to keep doing this and they are getting more brave.”
Bosch says it was about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday February 1 when Kapoor was robbed at the Footworks store at 5724 Sunset Drive.
Kapoor, who was out of town, told D’Oench through “What’s App” that “My purse was next to me at the store and it was unzipped and my wallet was on top and when I stepped away for a minute to try on some shoes that must have been when they took my wallet.”
“I feel invaded,” she said. “They took my wallet and my personal information. I feel very very angry. I think I am angry at them as well as angry at myself. They used every single credit card in my wallet. If anybody knows them, they should report them and turn them in. We live in a civilized society with a nation of laws and people have to obey them.”
“I can tell you one thing,” she said. “I am going to be a lot more aware of my surroundings now and the people around me.”
Detective Bosch said the suspect tried to use stolen credit cards at the Nordstrom store at the Dadeland Mall but were unsuccessful. Surveillance video shows them in the store and also walking together at Dadeland Station about an hour after Kapoor was robbed.
Bosch said surveillance tape also shows the same group entering CasaCuba restaurant shortly after Kapoor was robbed. They stole a wallet from a purse as a woman beside it and the man who she was with appeared distracted.
“The suspect puts a jacket over the purse and you see him taking a wallet out of a purse and another person being a lookout and a third guy also being a lookout. The common denominator here is distraction and lookouts,” said Bosch.
“At Dadeland station you see one of the guys on a phone just in case there is some sort of trouble and he can phone one of them and they can abort their mission and there is a 2018 Nissan Armada that is blue waiting for them,” he said.
Earlier this week, Bosch released a flyer showing all of the suspects and their vehicle.
On Thursday, he said he discovered the same group had also targeted Kay Jewelers at the Westfield Mall on Super Bowl Sunday February 2 in Plantation. Police in that city said while the employees were distracted, one suspect entered the manager’s office, accessed the safe, and stole jewelry while others took jewelry from a cabinet after unlocking it with a stolen key.
Bosch said, “I am watching the news yesterday and I see it’s the same group of people in Plantation that are involved in my case. I am sure they are going to keep doing it if we don’t stop them.”
He like Kapoor offered some advice.
“If you are in a restaurant, shopping, or whatever you have to pay attention to your surroundings,” he said. “Do not leave your purse in a shopping cart. Walk away. Stay mindful of your surroundings so something like this does not happen.”
Bosch said, “I have been in touch with Plantation Police. I spoke with them this morning.”
He has also put out BOLOS or be-on-the-lookout bulletins to other police departments.
Anyone with information should call South Miami Police at (305) 663-6301 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).
Plantation Police have said if you recognize the suspects seen at the Westfield Mall, you should contact Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477) or report it on their website.