Purse thieves target women at gas stations, grocery stores

DENVER — Thieves are staking out gas stations and grocery stores looking for purses to steal across the Denver metro area.

A Highlands Ranch mother of two told KWGN it happened to her.

“I turned my back, gassed up my car, turned back around and my purse was gone,” said Alissa Fletcher.  “It was like a blink of an eye it was so fast.”

Video obtained by KWGN shows a black jeep pulling into a Greenwood Village gas station. Police believe the driver of that SUV stole Fletcher’s purse.

He was never caught, but there are plenty more thieves doing the same thing.

“I didn’t think something like this could happen to me,” Fletcher said.

But FOX31 Denver located case after case with each video showing the same type of crime. We discovered dozens of similar cases at gas stations and grocery stores in Denver, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Wheat Ridge and Boulder.

We wanted to warn women about the continuous purse theft crimes, but no gas station would allow us to talk to people on their property. So, we took hidden cameras to see if drivers were aware that they need to protect their purses while pumping gas.

We noticed purse after purse sitting on the passenger seat within easy reach. Police say the best way to not be a victim is to take your bag with you, cover it up and lock your car.

Law enforcement agencies do not specifically track purse snatching, so police cannot say how often this crime is happening.

Some police do not label purse snatching as theft, rather calling it criminal trespassing.