Suspected Serial Burglars Target Stores in Downtown Palm Springs
PALM SPRINGS--Serial shoplifters are getting away with thousands of dollars of merchandise from stores in downtown Palm Springs.
The thefts have been happening mostly in broad daylight. Bold criminals distracting store clerks and then stealing right out from under them. Businesses contacted KMIR6 for help.
The rash of robberies in downtown Palm Springs has merchants on edge.
"It just disrupts your life for two weeks and you're like oh my g-d," Lonny Whittington at Palm Sprigs Treasures said.
Lonny Whittington is back at work, watching security footage from a nearby gas station. It shows a woman driving his car then buying cigarettes with his credit card. Police say these women, pretended to be customers, distracted Lonny, then took his car keys and credits cards. They say a third suspect is also involved in the distraction robbery. He's described as a white man, 20 to 30 years old, with dark, wavy, hair.
"We had all the safe guards," Whittington said. "It's just when you have 6 people in the store and there's a team of 3 and it's a plan, I mean they just went down the street and did the same thing."
The car was found in El Monte but the suspects are still on the loose. But it's only one of several stores targeted in a recent string of thefts along Palm Canyon Drive.
"I saw him and I told him I was going to call the police," an anonymous employee said. "He took them out of his pocket and he threw them at me and said 'you better not be here alone. I'm going to come back for you.'"
Down the street, shop owners have taken matters of security into their own hands, keeping watch outside their stores.
"There's people that you know steal things and we all work real hard down here and we don't want to have things stolen from us so we all look out for each other," David Cyr, owner of The Cocky Cactus, said.
Some shop owners have installed security cameras.
"I have video and usually I watch it after it happened because they make me busy. They come in groups, few people women and men and they make me busy, bring me this bring me that and usually when I'm not paying a lot of attention they're stealing something," Tetyana Tkachenko, owner of Valerie In Style said
They say even the added security hasn't stopped these sticky finger thieves from making off with thousands of dollars of merchandise.
Palm Springs Police released these surveillance pictures in hopes someone may recognize the suspects.
If you have any information about these crimes please call Palm Springs Police or Crimestoppers at 760-341-STOP. Your call will remain anonymous and you could be eligible for a cash reward.