McKinney police warn of theft suspects' scheme

McKinney police sent out a warning for shoppers heading into the holiday shopping season.

They're warning of a distraction tactic that criminals are using to steal wallets and purses.

Police released a surveillance picture showing what thieves are doing.

One distracts a shopper at their vehicle, while the other prepares to steal from it.

The tactic is one thieve will lure someone to the back of their car with a line like, "Maybe something is wrong with your bumper."

During that distraction, the second thief heads to the front of the car and swipes belongings.

McKinney police now hope, with the holidays here, that shoppers will be on high alert. 

"I’ve got that mindset that I need to be careful in Dallas, but I live out here in Lucas," Cery Barnes said.

Wednesday, Barnes made the trip to the McKinney Costo for a quick run. 

For a split second, she made herself a target. 

"I left my door open, actually two doors, and then I was busy coming back here to unload. In McKinney, I thought there would be no concern," she said.

But McKinney police said this is exactly how two people at the Costco off University were victims of a group of thieves with a plan.

"You might not be watching them, but they are watching you," McKinney PD officer Shannon Seabrook said.

McKinney investigators released a still photo from late last week warning of a robbery ring. 

Police said one of the robbers, a male in a hat and mask, lured a female shopping to the rear of her vehicle claiming she had something on the back of her car. 

As the woman leaned over, a second robber entered the front seat and stole her wallet. 

All of this happened in the middle of the afternoon. 

"This time of year, people take advantage of other people," Seabrook said.

"It’s Costco. Everybody comes here. We don’t think about someone is going to do something like that," shopper Mary Ann Carroll said.

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Just three days earlier, at the same Costco, McKinney police said an elderly man was distracted by two robbers, a man and a woman asking for directions. 

A third robber stole the man’s credit cards from inside his car. 

Police believe the crimes are connected. 

FOX 4 showed Janet Scott the photo as she clutched her cross-body purse. 

"And that’s one reason why I’ve changed purses. They will have to strangle me to get my purse," she said.

Scott said, especially now, she’ll stay focused on loading her food in the truck and taking off. 

McKinney police said it’s difficult to identify the suspects in the still photo since they are in masks and hats.

As the investigation continues, they are hoping to get the word out to not be distracted when people are out shopping.