HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is asking for help identifying a group of pickpockets they said operate throughout the Tampa Bay area.
In a press release, the sheriff's office said they learned of the group after they stole a woman's purse from a shopping cart at a Walmart in Brandon in February. Authorities said the group is made up of three to four people.
The sheriff's office said the group used a credit card stolen from the victim at another Walmart and McDonald's.
On April 3, the sheriff's office said three suspects matching the descriptions of the group were seen reaching into another woman's purse while it was in a shopping cart at another Walmart in Tampa. They stole a gold Apple iPhone Max Pro which is worth more than $1,000.
Detectives said the thieves have also struck in other areas like Bradenton and Sarasota, and the sheriff's office believes they're connected to other similar crimes across the Tampa Bay area.
"What started as a group of pickpockets creating a nuisance for a couple of people, has now become a ring of criminals that show no signs of stopping if and when they see an opportunity," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "This is a group of bandits who use means of distraction to lure victims away from their valuables while another in their group grabs what they want, and then take off before the items are discovered to be missing."
If you recognize any of these suspects or know their whereabouts, please call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.
The sheriff's office provided the following descriptions of the suspects and their vehicle:
Suspect 1: White or Hispanic male, between approximately 30-45 years old, with a medium build, last seen wearing a blue Addidas t-shirt, blue shorts, black shoes, black satchel, sunglasses, and a facemask. Also, the male appears to have tattoos on the back of both of his calves.
Suspect 2: White or Hispanic female, between approximately 25-35 years old, with a medium build, last seen wearing a white cropped t-shirt, blue scarf, black shorts, black shoes, and a facemask.
Suspect 3: White or Hispanic male, between approximately 35-50 years old, with a medium build, last seen wearing a black and gray Adidas t-shirt, gray sweatpants, black backpack, black shoes, sunglasses, and a facemask.
Identified Suspect Vehicle: Possibly a black Chevrolet Cruz (Model Year: 2011-2014) or Chevrolet Malibu (Model Year: 2013) with an unknown license plate.