Grandmothers' wallet snatchers sentenced

Posted at 7:28 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 22:28:10-05

Thieves who distracted and stole from some of the most vulnerable shoppers inside local grocery stores were sentenced Wednesday.

For 90 year old Gloria Leaverton, it started as a compliment. "I just wanted to say that, the girl that took my wallet, she's here today, and I was talking to her, telling her how beautiful she was," Leaverton said.

Leaverton had her purse stolen from Sprouts in El Cajon a year ago.

"This other lady says, 'Is this the type of fruit you bought down here? Is it good fruit?'" Leaverton said. "She got my attention and the girl took my wallet."

Leaverton's tiger striped wallet was ripped off along with all her credit cards and Medicare cards. Prosecutors say there have been 29 cases in the San Diego area over a 15-month time span. Leaverton said the thief not only stole her wallet, but her sense of security. "I won't go anywhere unless he goes with me," she said.

All five women are linked to similar thefts. They hit up stores like Sprouts and Vons, targeting older women.

"They distracted me by asking me how to buy a riped avocado," said another victim.

Leaverton says she found out her wallet was stolen when her bank told her the thief spent $600 at Target and tried making an ATM transaction. One of the thieves wiped her eyes in court. She was among several who apologized.

"I ask that if you don't accept my apology, you at least acknowledge that I am sorry," said Antoinette Robinson, 19.

The sentences ranged from just less than a year in county jail, to six years in prison.