Authorities in Grapevine believe a woman has been targeting other women in a string of credit and debit card thefts at restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The Grapevine Police Department released video of the suspect, who is believed to be using credit and debit cards stolen from diners at La Madeleine restaurants in Grapevine, Plano and Irving.
Police said all of the victims’ wallets were removed from their purses during the alleged thefts. In the Grapevine case, the victim’s purse was hanging on the back of her chair Aug. 24 while she enjoyed her meal.
The other wallets in question were stolen from victims at the La Madeleine in Plano on Aug. 18 and 21, while the incident in Irving occurred on Aug. 22. Police said the woman used the stolen credit or debit cards within hours for high-end purchases of electronics or handbags in Frisco, Irving and Southlake.
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Detectives said the surveillance video of the woman making a purchase was taken from a Best Buy store in Irving on Aug. 24.
Mary Simpson, 43, said Thursday that she was also victimized by the same suspect at a location in Arlington on Aug. 23.
"I met two friends at La Madeleine to celebrate a birthday," said Simpson. "We got food and sat down at a corner table. Then I put my purse on the back of my chair."
She said her and her friends enjoyed their meal and never left the table.
"There wasn't even anybody around us," Simpson said.
After having lunch for about 30 minutes she went to her car and left the cafe. As she was driving home, she got a call from her bank about large purchases that had been made minutes earlier.
"They said, 'Are you at Best Buy right now purchasing $5,000 worth of stuff?' and I said 'No I'm not," said Simpson.
She pulled to the side of the road to look in her purse for her wallet and realized it was missing.
Simpson said the suspect charged $5,800 on her credit card at Best Buy and another $1,000 at a different store. She thought those were the only illegal purchases made, but her bank informed her that her business credit card had been compromised as well.
"Then they tried to use my business card to charge another $5,000," said Simpson. "It happened quick."
Simpson said the wallet seen in the surveillance video from Best Buy released by the Grapevine police was not her wallet. After seeing the video online, Simpson said she wasn't surprised that the suspect was able to use her identification and use the credit cards.
"She looks like me. She could pass for me and she probably showed them my ID," Simpson said.
Police are urging residents to avoid hanging purses on chairs, which can leave them vulnerable to thieves.
Anyone with information should contact the Grapevine police at 817-410-8127.