Hermiston Police Share Details of Alleged Grocery Store Thieves

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Next time you are in a grocery store, keep a close eye on your purse or wallet.

That’s a tip coming from the Hermiston Police Department on its Facebook page. HPD Capt. Travis Eynon shared details about a group of people working together to steal from innocent shoppers.

“We have seen a small group of people working together inside stores (usually grocery stores),” wrote Eynon. “They like to work in groups of 2-4 people.”

According to Eynon, they will come into the store and grab a cart to “shop,” adding items to their cart as they go.

“They are always wearing a mask and often a ball cap or a hat of some sort,” wrote Eynon. “They wander around the store, pretending to shop but they are actually checking out the other shoppers’ carts. If they can find a purse that is sitting in the cart basket and unzipped, unsnapped, unbuttoned, etc., they have now found their target.”

Eynon said they use at least one person to be a lookout and one person to be a decoy. The decoy will often engage the target in a conversation, asking their advice on a product nearby but not in close proximity to the shopper’s cart. This way, wrote Eynon, the target is likely to leave their cart and come to them.

“Once they have lured the victim away from their cart, the third person slides on by, reaches into the open handbag, grabs the wallet and continues on their way,” wrote Eynon. “The band of thieves then leave the store in very short order.”

By the time the victim realizes the wallet is missing, the thieves are already gone.

Eynon said it’s smart to keep all cash, checks, credit cards and other valuables on your person and out of view. If you carry a purse, satchel or backpack, keep those on your person if possible.

“Keep your hand on your bag and cart and take them with you to the person who is asking for input,” he wrote. “This way you can still be helpful while keeping your personal property safe.”

To see photos from surveillance cameras of the suspects at work, visit the HPD Facebook page.

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