(PUEBLO, Colo.) — The Pueblo Police Department (PPD) is warning the public that thieves are targeting purses in retail parking lots and gas stations.

PPD is asking members of the community to take extra steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim after increased reports of purse thefts. PPD said there is a group of suspects targeting people who are moving groceries and purchases from shopping carts into their cars, or while they fill their car’s gas tank.

PPD said the thieves are reported to look for women who are alone who leave their purse or wallet in a shopping cart or child seat as they step away to open a car door or pump gas. When the victim steps away, the thieves will drive close to the cart and a passenger will reach out and grab the purse before driving away.

PPD said it is actively investigating these incidents and is taking extra measures to help protect the public. If you become a victim of this crime, report it right away, but avoid taking measures into your own hands. Providing accurate descriptions of suspects and suspect vehicles, along with obtaining license plate numbers, if possible, will help with identifying and apprehending the thieves. 

However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim. PPD urged shoppers to be vigilant and remain aware of their surroundings. Don’t leave children, pets, or any personal belongings unattended, and lock your car when you park. PPD also encourages shutting off your engine and locking your doors when getting gas, even when it seems like an inconvenience. 

If you have any information on these incidents or can provide any suspect information, contact PPD at (719)553-2502. To remain anonymous, contact Pueblo Crime Stoppers at (719)542-STOP (7867) or PuebloCrimeStoppers.com. If your information leads to a felony arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.