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Sneaky thieves grab purses

Man and woman target Foothill Boulevard shops for distract-and-grab thefts.

November 04, 2010

Recent purse snatchings and another attempted theft at Foothill Boulevard businesses have the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station warning shoppers and store employees to keep a close eye on their belongings, and to stay on the lookout for a tricky couple with sticky fingers.

Sheriff's deputies report that the first known distract-and-grab incident in a possible string of thefts occurred Oct. 14 at the Crescenta Valley Flower Mart.

A Latino man thought to be in his mid-30s entered the store with a woman who also appeared to be Latino and in her 30s and asked a clerk to construct a bouquet while his partner looked around the shop. While the clerk's back was turned, the man apparently walked out with the clerk's purse, which contained more than $300 in cash and a camera valued at $500, according to an incident report.

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On Oct. 27, a couple matching that description attempted a similar scheme at the Jenny Craig Weight Loss Center on Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge, where this time the woman distracted a clerk while the man entered an employee break room, said Sgt. Ray Harley.

Though nothing was reported missing from Jenny Craig, the couple was seen a few minutes later in the same shopping center entering the Little Gym of La Cañada, where a woman reported that her purse was stolen while she attended to her child.

"Employees and patrons of small businesses on Foothill need to be aware of customers' movements in the store and the description of these two suspects that have hit three, maybe four stores in the last two weeks," said Harley.

The male suspect is thought to have short, dark hair, stand about six feet tall and weigh around 200 pounds. The woman has medium-length blond or light-brown hair, stands between 5'3" and 5'5" and weighs between 130 and 150 pounds, said Harley.

Detectives are currently investigating whether a purse theft last Wednesday at Flintridge Tailoring is connected to the same suspects, though no suspects were identified in that incident.

Harley said that investigators also haven't ruled out the pair's possible involvement in an Oct. 8 theft of a purse from a dressing room at the Bikram Yoga studio in La Cañada while the purse's owner participated in a workout class. Diamond jewelry, cash and other property valued at more than $20,000 were lost.

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