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Victim Speaks Out About Pickpockets Captured On Surveillance Tape

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AVENTURA (CBSMiami) – A beleaguered, elderly Aventura woman is speaking out after she says two pickpockets stole a wallet from her purse at the Aventura Mall and then used her credit cards to charge more than $6,000 worth of items.

CBS4 has exclusively obtained surveillance tape of the suspects who police say were captured on camera Sunday using the stolen credit cards.

"I cannot begin to tell you what this is like," said Vera, the victim who did not want to show all of her face and who did not want to give her last name. "This is like a train rolling over your head."

In an exclusive interview with CBS4's Peter D'Oench, Vera said, "You feel like someone has wacked you over the head. You feel helpless. You feel lost. You don't know what is going on. How could this happen to me. I was more than upset. I was hysterical."

A police report says Vera told police she thought she was robbed sometime around 2:30 p.m. Sunday when she and her husband were sitting at a table at a restaurant.

Her wallet was inside her purse that she had on the back of a chair.

"Normally I am very cautious and I am very careful," she said.

She said the suspects were actually behind her taking pictures and bending down near her purse.

Police say the thieves used her card to charge two Givenchy purses totaling $4580 at Nordstrom and then used another card to charge a $900 gift card at a Target store.

They tried to get another gift card for $900 but were declined.

They used a third card to charge more nearly $700 worth of items at a beauty store.

In another case in Sunny Isles Beach, surveillance cameras were rolling as two women pretended to get a reservation at a busy Sunny Isles Beach restaurant Saturday night right around 8:15.  But the women weren't there to eat according to police.

"The victim actually had his cell phone and his wallet sitting on the table in front of him and what he said to me was that he felt awkward having his wallet on the table.  it didn't feel safe so he put it in his jacket pocket," said Sunny Isles Beach Police Sgt. Brian Schnell.

But just seconds after the man puts his wallet in his jacket pocket, one of the women bends down and takes it, according to Sunny Isles Beach Police.

"They then took the gentlemen's wallets, his cards, went over to the Aventura Mall and attempted to make thousands of dollars in purchases.  They successfully got a few hundred dollars worth of products," said Sgt. Schnell.

Although both cases have a similar MO, police say there's not enough evidence to state they're related but the similarities are striking.

"I don't know if they were related to Aventura's case but  I'm sure our detectives will be speaking to one another," said Sgt. Schnell.

In the Aventura case, police say Vera's wallet was found in a bathroom at Nordstrom. Her driver's license was inside it but all of her cards were gone. She has since cancelled them.

"I cannot believe the type of hutzpah that people have to do this to other people," she said. "How can they do that? I also don't understand how they could use the cards without providing identification."

"People need to take more precautions in order to protect their property," she added. "I did what I could to protect my property and I thought I was so damn smart but I am not. There are always a lot of people who are smarter than you and who are out for something. And they get it. So you had better be prepared to be smarter. Don't take all of your credit cards. Don't take all of your wallets. Take a small purse."

Police describe the women as "heavy set black females."

One is short and is about 5-feet tall. She has long black hair and was wearing a tan, plastic dress.

The other female is about 5-foot-6 tall and was wearing a camouflage shirt.

If you have any information, contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

CBS Miami's Oralia Ortega contributed to this story. 


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