HOBART — A woman was looking at watermelons in a store when a man approached her and questioned her “on what type of watermelon was the best.” After she left the business, her credit card company contacted her about several thousand dollars worth of purchases charged to her account, police said.
Hobart Capt. James Gonzales said two victims of theft each reported stolen wallets following nonsensical conversations, prompting police to caution the public against strangers approaching people with peculiar dialogue.
“As a precaution, if someone engages you in a conversation about nonsense while you are shopping, you should ignore that person and remove yourself from that situation ASAP and report it to loss prevention or law enforcement as soon as possible,” Gonzales said. “It is better to appear as being rude than becoming a victim of a theft and fraud.”
On Friday, police responded to a store in the 2900 block of East 79th Avenue after two people reported similar thefts.
Police reviewed store surveillance footage showing the man who approached the woman about watermelons. Police described the man as black and wearing gray sweatpants, a gray zip-up sweatshirt over a red shirt and red shoes. As the man talked to the victim, a woman was seen on footage removing a wallet from the victim's purse.
The woman was described as black wearing blue jeans, a brown jacket, a dark shirt and white shoes, Gonzales said. It appears the man and woman drove a light-colored sport utility vehicle that could possibly be a Chevrolet or General Motors Company model.
A second theft victim at the same store said she was in the automotive section of the store when she was approached by a woman who started asking her questions about the ingredients of oil. The victim became annoyed and told police she was trying to cover her purse because she was suspicious of the woman.
The victim said a man ran up and grabbed her wallet out of her purse. Police reviewed the surveillance footage and described the woman as black and wearing a pink shirt and pink pants. The man was described as black wearing a white button-up shirt and light-colored pants. The man and woman fled the store in a dark-colored four-door sedan.
The second victim also reported that her credit card had several hundred dollars worth of fraudulent charges.
Police said they believe the woman described in each theft is the same person wearing different clothing.
Anyone with information on the identity of the suspects is asked to contact Sergeant David Evans by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 219-942-4458.