El Dorado County Sheriffs Seek Pick Pocket Gang

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El Dorado County Sheriffs detectives are asking people to be on the lookout for a gang of pick pocket thieves possibly based out of Sacramento.

The search began after a series of wallet snatchings at area grocery stores where shoppers left their purses in the child seat of shopping carts. Instead of taking the purses, which would be to conspicuous, they took the wallets with credit cards in them instead.

"You may not notice your wallet is missing out of your purse until you go up to pay. In some cases they may think 'well I left it in the car or I left it at home,'" said Sgt Jim Byers of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

It appears the thieves were taking credit cards quickly to nearby stores to buy gift cards before law enforcement could be alerted.

A series of theft protection alerts by banking institutions was eventually traced back to grocery customers who were victimized. But in one case a woman noticed her wallet missing right away and she called authorities right away.

"We were able to get to the store and catch him in the act," said Byers.

The suspect is 26-year-old Leon Armstrong of Sacramento.

Surveillance pictures of four other suspects at different stores using stolen cards was collected by detectives. They say cars used by the suspects were found to be leased or rented out of Sacramento under false names.

The Sheriff's office is asking for help in identifying the suspects caught on camera, believing that they will hit other communities in the area.