A thief in San Diego thought they were pulling off a slick maneuver when they asked their victim to call their cell phone and nabbing their wallet. There was only one hitch to the devious crime: she gave the victim her actual phone number.
On Aug. 28, Marissa Peters was shopping for groceries when she was approached by a mysterious woman and her child in the East Village of San Diego, California. The woman asked Peters if she could help her locate her missing phone, KNSD reports.
"The one woman asked me if I could call her phone because she couldn't find it," Peters recalled. "I called it three times to try to help her. But I noticed she wasn't looking for it as I was calling."
While Peters was acting as a good Samaritan and patiently calling the "missing" cell phone, the woman reached into her purse, fishing out her wallet. The woman then left the aisle with her child in tow as a distracted Peters remained on her phone, unaware that she had been duped.
"It happened just like that when she was so close to me," Peters said.
The victim was shocked by how brazen the theft was when store managers showed her security footage of the incident.
"I watched the video back and thought it was unbelievable," Peters said.
Peters had not realized that she had been robbed until she went to the store checkout and discovered that her wallet was missing. She promptly checked her mobile banking account and found that her card had already been used to make three unauthorized purchases nearby.
On a hunch, Peters called the phone number that the woman had given her once again and was stunned when the thief answered.
"I said, 'I'm not sure who this is but a woman just asked to use my phone in the store,' the woman said to me, 'Yeah that was me,'" the victim said. "That's when I told her if you don't return my wallet, I'm giving your number to police."
The thief dumped the wallet in a bush near the store and drove off. Peters saw her robber's license plate number and filed a police report, ensuring that the woman who had tricked her would face consequences.
On Nov. 16, 60 people were indicted for an auto theft operation in San Diego after law enforcement carried out an undercover sting. The perpetrators had stolen over 70 vehicles.
"These people made it their business to steal cars," said San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
California Highway Patrol Capt. Don Goodbrand said that the car thieves would steal vehicles and sell them to "do their drugs or whatever they wanted to do with that money. ... They just want to get paid."
While these high-profile incidents could create the perception that San Diego is a perilous place for possessions, the California city actually ranks fifth in the entire U.S. for the lowest rate of property crimes per 100,000 residents, according to HomeSecurityResource.org.