Police: Stop leaving pocketbooks and valuables unattended in sh - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Police: Stop leaving pocketbooks and valuables unattended in shopping carts

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Have you ever put your wallet, pocketbook or cell phone in the shopping cart while in the store - then walk away to pick up a few items, and leave your valuables unattended in the cart? Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say stop doing it.

It sounds like a no brainer but police say people need a reminder.

Officers in the University City Division say they're seeing an increase in thefts from shopping carts.

"For some criminals, that's their job. They go in looking specifically looking for people to leave these things unattended" said Lieutenant Jim Morrison, of CMPD. "And there are other people that may happen to be walking by - see the item unattended and decide perfect opportunity."

There's no specific reason why there's been a jump in the number of cases.

While shoppers tend to be preoccupied with their shopping lists, "these are not things you've had to deal with before" Lt. Morrison said. "It's not something the average person would even think about but it's something in today's world we have to all start thinking about and doing more to protect ourselves."

Officers say thieves can get a lot of money for valuables like cell phones.

"The criminals can get a good amount of money for them when they steal them so they're out looking for it."

So police are stressing - when you go shopping, put your purse around your shoulder.

"Keep it close to your body - that way you can't turn around from it as easily as if you have it in a shopping cart" Lt. Morrison said. "You turn your back for a moment - you come back it's gone."

WBTV talked with some shoppers at the Walmart, and Harris Teeter in the University City area to find out where they keep their wallets and pocketbooks while shopping.

"I keep it on my shoulder" Angela Hrinda said, adding she never puts it in the cart. "Because somebody can take it right when you're not paying attention."

Pam Rhynes said she keeps her pocketbook "on my shoulder or sometimes in the seat with my arm through the loop."

Rhynes admitted she does, on occasion, leave it in the shopping cart - unattended.

"Usually not if there's a lot of people around. I'm pretty conscious of that" Rhynes said. "But if I'm the only one on an aisle - I may walk away and pick up something off the shelf and come back to it."

Police say that the all the time a thief needs.

Jacqueline Weldon said she puts her pocketbook in the shopping cart and secures it with the cart's straps.

"Because on occasion, I'm going to be turning my back and I don't want anything to happen to it. And that's a safe way to keep it."

Weldon said she doesn't think thieves will take her pocketbook while it's strapped in.

"After I get it half way full of groceries, I don't think so."

But police say - think again.

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