Plant City Police hunting for 3 pickpockets targeting Publix shoppers

Posted at 11:20 PM, Nov 15, 2016

"I was in shock because I looked for my wallet to pay for my groceries and my wallet was gone," said Pamela Bell.

Bell says last week she was targeted by thieves at the Plant City Publix off Redman Pkwy.

"I had this purse but I wasn't wearing it, I sat it in the baby seat," said Bell.

She says about ten minutes into shopping, a man captured in a surveillance photo struck up a conversation while she looked over the ice cream.

"He said look at all the variety of this ice cream, they make it so hard to choose, and I said oh yeah, I know, gosh decisions and so forth," said Bell.

But while the man kept Bell talking, another women, also captured on camera, was making her move towards Bell's wallet.

"I kind of sensed somebody behind me but when I went to turn, he would ask another question, basically ask me a question or make a comment so I turned back to him," said Bell.

Plant City investigators say the team of three thieves have pulled this same scam on three people over the last two weeks at two different Publix stores.

The thieves quickly make their way to a nearby CVS where they purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards with the stolen credit cards and cash.

"If its a person who says I love being a grandma, the thieves will talk about their grand kids, if its someone wearing a Tampa Bay Bucs shirt they'll engage them in sports talk," said Sgt Al VanDuyne with Plant City PD.

Investigators say not to let your guard, bury your wallet deep in your purse, and if you can keep your purse in your possession at all times.

As for Pamela, she says always trust your instincts.

"If you feel somebody behind you, look behind you, don't assume it's nothing, I will never assume that again," said Bell.

CrimeStoppers is offering a reward to anyone who can help identify the thieves.