A cancer patient whose wallet was stolen recently while shopping at Bashas’ at McClintock Drive and Warner Road in Tempe was unharmed in the incident—at least physically.
It was not the first time. A similar wallet theft occurred about two months earlier – involving the same woman, in the same store.
The victim, who did not wish to be identified, frequently shops at the store and is known to employees, according to her caregiver, Fran Narayan.
In the recent incident, as the woman stood talking with a butcher, she inadvertently took her eyes off her handbag in her shopping cart. The thief used the opportunity to steal the wallet and then went on a shopping spree with the woman’s stolen credit cards, racking up $2,000 at a Chandler Walmart and about $1,800 in an online purchase.
“She said she didn’t see anybody,” Narayan said. “She said to me, ‘Where’s my wallet?’”
After making sure it hadn’t fallen out in the car, Narayan said she knew they had the wallet prior to entering the grocery because they’d done some Christmas shopping first. When her client realized her wallet was gone, “she went a different color,” Narayan said.
To have been victimized twice has taken a toll, especially as the woman undergoes monthly cancer treatments.
“Yesterday she spent the whole day in bed. The day before she wasn’t well,” Narayan said. “She said, ‘I’m numb. I can’t cry anymore because of what happened.’”
Been there before
About two months ago, the woman was shopping at the same Bashas’ when someone engaged her in conversation while another person stole the wallet from her bag.
“She’s had enough,” Narayan said. “She said she feels like going in there when she gets her new cards and saying, ‘Which one of you is going to take them this time?’ ”
Even more worrisome is that the woman’s ID is now missing.
“They’ve got her address,” Narayan said, adding that she’s taken some anti-theft precautions at the home.
Ashley Schick, director of communications for Bashas’, said the company is “aware of the unfortunate situation” and is “working closely with our Loss Prevention team to investigate.
“We are also working directly with local authorities to resolve the situation.”
Detective Greg Bacon of the Tempe Police Department said an uptick in theft is common at this time of year.
“This is a very sad situation,” Bacon said. “We’re getting into the holiday season and shopping season and unfortunately this is when people ramp up targeting of others.”
Bacon advises shoppers to be extra vigilant when shopping. It doesn’t take long for a thief to spot a purse momentarily unattended in a shopping cart.
Be aware of surroundings
“Take the extra second—it’s probably not the most convenient—but pick up your purse and have it in front of you because this is a time of year when people are really looking to take advantage of other people,” he said.
Bacon also offered tips for men regarding their wallets.
“A lot of guys still put their wallets in their back pocket which we don’t really advise,” Bacon said.
You might not notice someone reaching into your pocket but it catches up with you when you go to pay for something.
“We encourage people to put their wallet in their front pocket if possible or to have a jacket with a zip-able pocket, something where you can have an extra level of protection,” Bacon said.
So will fanny packs make a comeback this season?
“There’s nothing wrong with wearing a fanny pack,” Bacon said, adding, “anything that’s attached to your body, if somebody grabs it and hangs onto it, you’re now involved in a much higher likelihood for injury.
“We wouldn’t discourage somebody from wearing a fanny pack but we’d also tell them to very cautious about who is around you.”
If you believe that someone is following you or appears to be too close, seek out a store employee and tell them, Bacon said. He also advises shoppers to park under a light if possible if they are out at night and to park near other vehicles.
As for Narayan, she’s thankful her client wasn’t injured in either incident at Bashas’.
“Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean that somebody’s not going to be that desperate when they’ve pushed people and pulled them out of their cars to steal their cars,” Narayan said. “She told me, ‘I don’t want anybody else to go through this.’”