Police seek help identifying repeat wallet snatcher

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Police say a man has been swiping wallets in Burlington-area grocery stores. And one of his victims was an elderly woman. Investigators are now asking for the public's help to catch the thief.

Surveillance photo

"Ninety years old-- come on now. It's like my grandmother times two. It's not right," said Amberlee Charbonneau of Burlington. "Put yourself in that family's shoes and especially around the holidays if you're a hard worker."

Outrage from the community after Burlington Police released surveillance photos showing a thief taking a 90-year-old woman's wallet while she was choosing a greeting card at Price Chopper.

"She probably worked her whole life to have what she had in that purse," Charbonneau said. "And at her age-- that's like taking candy from a baby."

South Burlington police say she wasn't the thief's only victim.

"We are looking at the same suspect," South Burlington Police Det. Cassandra Ellison said.

They say at the Shaw's, that same man swiped a wallet from a 42-year-old woman who was shopping back on Nov. 12, and then spent more than $300 there with her credit card before using it at the Price Chopper to spend more than $500.

It's something police say they see way too often.

"It takes a matter of seconds. Just you turning your back to your belongings," Ellison said. "So we urge people to always keep their personal belongings close to them."

We asked shoppers how they keep their purses safe while getting groceries.

"I always leave it over my shoulder. It would be far too easy for somebody to grab it out of the cart when I wasn't looking," said Laurie Arango of South Burlington.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Do you ever put it in your cart?
Mikala Burrows/Burlington: No, no. I would never trust that.

It's not just in the stores that you need to be careful of your belongings. It's in your cars, too. Police say they see a spike in car break-ins this time of year, as well, as thieves go after bags inside.