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2 Charged With Purse Thefts In I-95 Restrooms

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Hellgren Mike 370x278 (2) Mike Hellgren
WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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PERRYVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Police say they have caught some of the suspects behind an elaborate credit card scheme. 

Mike Hellgren reports on how women were targeted while trying to use the restroom.

Police reviewed hundreds of hours of security footage and traced back gift cards bought with stolen credit cards and made three arrests.  But they believe the scam was much larger and there may be dozens more victims.

Thousands of dollars in merchandise, furs, computers, shoes and TVs—police say a ring of scam artists from Baltimore bought it all after stealing purses from elderly women in bathrooms at the Maryland House and Chesapeake House rest areas.

“That’s frightening because we’re in there alone,” said one woman

Police say lookouts would spot easy targets outside and then call their targets inside.

“These individuals were wearing street clothes but they pretended to be an employee and people believed them.  Then, once the potential victim was inside the stall, they would  knock on that stall door, create a diversion of some type and while the woman’s attention was directed to the front of the stall, the other partner would reach under or over that stall, remove the wallet or purse and steal the credit cards,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.

The victims would be miles down the road before they realized what happened.  Police believe the scam played out along the I-95 corridor from Virginia to New Jersey and there are others involved still on the loose.

“Investigators believe there are scores of cases still out there,” Shipley said.

“You have to be very cautious,” said one woman.

Purses would be snatched from the floor and hooks.  Police are urging women to take precautions.

“They can be in and out of that pocketbook very quickly, take those credit cards and you won’t even know they’re missing,” Shipley said.

Ishia Cason and Yvette Jones were charged Friday with using other people’s credit cards, identity theft, theft over $10,000, fraud and forgery. They are being held on $150,000 bond.

Police say they are investigating more cases and obtaining warrants for more suspects.

Extra security measures are in place at the rest areas, including signs that warn of the dangers.

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