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Pickpocket team targets woman with distraction tactic at Liberty Station

Pickpocket team targets woman with distraction tactic at Liberty Station
Posted at 4:31 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 20:34:51-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Point Loma woman believes a pickpocket team used a distraction tactic to make her wallet vanish at Liberty Station.

Last Thursday afternoon, Katie Leonard received a cut at a salon at Liberty Station and tipped her stylist with cash in her wallet, before walking out and sitting down at a nearby table.

“Stopped there to do some work and send out some emails,” said Leonard.

Less than 15 minutes later, she heard a man’s voice.

“First thing I heard was ‘Excuse me,’” said Leonard.

Leonard turned her head, as a man, around 60 years of age, stopped near her.

“As I turned my head to look at him, he asked me for directions to Cold Stone Creamery,” said Leonard. "He maintained eye contact with me the whole time with a small, little smile on his face.”

She gave him directions and he walked away. Soon after, she noticed her wallet was suddenly missing from her purse.

The only time the purse hadn't been in her line of sight? Those few moments she had been distracted.

“Must have been come around to my side, and I didn't notice a hand go into my purse,” said Leonard.

Within half an hour, Leonard started getting fraud alerts for her debit and credit cards.

“I got a text message, saying two credit cards and one debit card were each being charged for over $1,000 at Target,” said Leonard.

She stopped those charges from going through, but the thief did make off with her driver's license, credit and debit cards and $90 in cash. She filed a police report and posted her story on the Nextdoor app.

She says she got several responses from people who describe similar incidents at Liberty Station within the past year.

“Similar deal of someone grabbing something out of a purse,” said Leonard.

Leonard hopes the pickpocket team is caught, before others are targeted.

“I think it’s an unfortunately effective tactic, an older person stopping to ask for directions. I will turn to answer them,” said Leonard.

Leonard describes the man as a white male, about 60 years old, about 5’7” with a medium build and gray hair. He was wearing glasses, a brown sweater and brown pants.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call San Diego Police Western Division at 619-692-4800.