produce in grocery store
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 19, 2024 ·  4 min read

Hidden Cameras Catch a Scam that is Happening in Grocery Stores Around the Country

When men go shopping, they typically put their wallets in their pockets. Women, on the other hand, who don’t usually have big enough pockets if they have them at all, keep them in their purses. Unfortunately, this is proving that it might be a bad idea. A purse theft scam is being recorded in grocery stores across the country. This is what is happening and how to prevent your purse from getting stolen.

The Purse Theft Scam That’s Sweeping The Nation

Over the last few years across the country, more and more women have had their purses stolen while shopping at places like the supermarket, Target, and the like. Part of this is because in these kinds of stores, people typically shop with carts. Women put their purses in the carts, making them easy targets for thieves attempting this purse theft scam.

Typically, the thieves will work with at least one other person. One person will distract the woman, perhaps by asking her a question or something such as this. While the woman is distracted, the other person will then snatch the purse out of the woman’s cart. Before she notices, the thief is long gone and so is her purse and everything in it.

A few years ago, InsideEdition decided to test out just how easy the purse theft scam is to pull off. What they found was that it is even easier than they thought it would be. Whether they used an accomplice to distract the woman who had put her purse in the cart or they simply waited until she was distracted of her own accord, they snatched the purse. (1)

Read: 4-Year-Old Girl Asks Elderly Widower at Grocery Store for a Hug, Saves Him from Loneliness

A Problem Across The Nation

In Detroit in September, police caught two 26-year-old women who were working together in their own purse theft scam. Police charged them with two counts of larceny over $1,000 but less than $20,000; three counts of financial transaction device – stealing/retaining; three counts of financial transaction device – illegal sale/use, and three counts of larceny over $200 but less than $1,000. The women were stealing purses from unattended shopping carts in grocery store parking lots. They would then use the debit and credit cards to buy things in different stores. (2)

In Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, also in September, police came across a similar crime. They caught three different incidents of what they called “distraction theft” at several grocery stores and shopping centers. In these cases, women who were leaving their purses in grocery store carts were being targeted by organized groups. In these cases, police said that the suspects were mostly women who wore face masks and often sunglasses. They didn’t appear to be from the area and would always leave town soon after. (3)

Another woman in Houston, Texas, had someone follow her and her sister home from the grocery store only for them to steal her purse while unloading the items at her sister’s home. In surveillance footage, the person again appears to be a woman. A car pulls up, and when she and her sister go inside briefly while unloading, a woman gets out of the passenger seat, steals the purse, and they drive off. The suspect then bought about $700 in gift cards at a nearby store. (4)

How To Prevent Purse Theft Yourself

Purse theft in grocery stores, Targets, and Walmarts is, unfortunately, all too common, no matter where you live. As we shop, we are thinking of what we need to buy, checking prices, and reading labels, and often don’t consider grocery stores as places where we need to be hyper-vigilant. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

No matter where you are shopping, your best bet is to never leave your purse in a cart or basket. You are safest to keep it on you, as cumbersome as that might be. Always have your purse closed and within your reach and vision. If you can, leave extra credit cards and important items at home and only bring what you absolutely need. That way, if you are a victim of purse theft, the situation won’t be as grave.

Keep Reading: Thug Breaks Into Elderly Woman’s Home – She Whispers Three Words That Have Him Running For His Life


  1. How Thieves Target Woman’s Purses When They’re Shopping.” Youtube. Inside Edition. 2019.
  2. Purse snatchers charged after thefts at Metro Detroit grocery stores.” Fox2 Detroit.  Amber Ainsworth.  September 14, 2022.
  3. Bethel Park police investigating distraction thefts from purses at grocery stores.” WPXI.  Taylor Spirito. September 19, 2022.
  4. ‘It’s very violating and scary’: Woman’s purse stolen while unloading groceries at sister’s home in The Heights.” Khou. Janelle Bludau. August 8, 2022.