Nowhere is safe, and trust nobody. That's the, um, "reassuring" credit card crime news that I've come away with this week.
Every Friday--this is our second installment--we're going to report on some of the more odd and unusual credit card crimes that have been making news lately, and the last couple of weeks have been pretty weird.
Parking lot prey
One Dodi Wasbotten, a 50-year-old grandmother, was arrested on May 11. The news media have been calling her "The Granny Bandit," but these weren't exactly cutesy crimes that she is being accused of.
On May 8, in the parking lot of a Kohl's, Wasbotten allegedly held up a woman at her minivan with a black semi-automatic handgun. "Excuse me, ma'am," she is said to have said. "I need your purse." She then grabbed the purse and drove away.
That was 11:05 a.m., and Wasbotten wasted no time using her victim's credit cards. She made purchases at a Circle K by 11:17 a.m.
On May 9, Wasbotten allegedly held up another woman at a Target, taking the lady's purse.
On May 10, she chose a Walmart, but this time, the woman who was about to be robbed told Wasbotten that she had medicine in her purse.
"Take it out and hurry," Wasbotten said, according to the police reports.
And then the woman asked, "Can I just give you my money?"
Wasbotten said yes and left with $40 but no credit cards.
On May 11, Wasbotten went to another Target, one near the Kohl's, and she held up a mother and her four-year-old daughter. The victim asked if she could at least keep her cell phone. Wasbotten agreed.
In any case, Wasbotten allegedly used the mother's credit cards less than an hour later at a Walmart in Fontana, and soon after, at a traffic stop, she was arrested. Police, who were on the lookout for the Granny Bandit, noticed items in the car that looked like the items reportedly purchased with the stolen credit cards.
Snatched at school
Two unfortunate teachers at an elementary school in Corbin City, New Jersey, had their credit cards stolen from their purses, not by a youthful gang of credit card thieves. No, a grown woman--who is still on the loose--snuck into the school in the middle of the school day and took the cards, then went on a shopping spree. A driver (maybe her husband?) took her to several stores and waited in the parking lot while she stocked up.
It happened last Friday--Friday the 13th--and judging from the surveillance cameras, she knew the building's layout and teacher schedules. So my money's on a child's parent, although I guess you don't have to be an A+ student to come to that conclusion.
(Un)chaste at church
So grannies and schools aren't safe. Surely churches are?
Nope, not this week.
Police are looking for two women, who like the Corbin City lady are still on the loose, who have been stealing credit cards out of cars parked by churches in Boone and Hendricks counties, in a rural part of Indiana west of Indianapolis. The police think they're looking for a Chevrolet SUV.
The thieves have used the credit cards to do everything from fill up their SUV to buy computers--$11,000 worth at Best Buy stores in Indianapolis and the towns of Avon and Carmel. They've also been at Kohl's, Target and Party City. (Wonder how Kohl's and Target feel, apparently being the stores of choice for credit card thieves to do their shopping at.)
If there are any lessons to be learned here, it's that no matter how safe or smart you are with your credit cards, there's a bold and brazen criminal just waiting to take advantage of the right opportunity. Be aware, be alert, and whatever you do, don't leave your credit cards lying around in your car--even when you're at church.