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Behind the Badge Criminals keep an eye on your purse, you should too

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Posted: Monday, January 31, 2011 12:00 am

Ladies, your purses drive me nuts. Whether they are as big as luggage or as small as an eyeglass case, you never know what you've got in them, and you can never find it even if it's in there. Some purses cost $10, and some cost $400, but I still can't tell the difference no matter how many times my wife has explains it to me.

But you know what all purses have in common? They all say, "Money, checks and credit cards inside. Please steal me!"

There isn't a time I go to the grocery store, when I don't see at least one, if not five purses unattended in shopping carts. You may only be shopping for milk and eggs, but someone else in that store may be shopping for something else.

If you are going to place your personal belongings in your cart, that's fine when you are standing behind it pushing it. But when you turn around to read how much sodium is in the can of green beans that are on sale, four for $5; sometimes that's all it takes.

Even better than the whole purse being stolen, is the wallet being stolen out of the purse, when the purse is lying in the cart wide open. What generally happens here is by the time the victim gets to the checkout and is wondering where the wallet went, the thief has already filled their tank with premium, bought a soda, four packs of Ding Dongs, and is sitting at home playing a brand new video game. Your wallet and its contents, minus the cash, have been disposed of somewhere along the way.

Many people leave their purses in their cars, so they don't have to carry them through the store. This basically gives the thief a longer window of opportunity to take it.

You've got to remember: thieves have a sixth sense. Just as you know your own job, thieves know theirs. When we go home, we try to stop thinking about our jobs. Thieves don't. Thieves don't have sick days, vacation days or a 401k. Actually, I take that back. Sometimes they have your 401k.

Another thing to think about is what happens if your checkbook or credit cards are stolen. Do you have the account numbers readily available somewhere, and a phone number to call to cancel them right away?

I apologize if I have painted a cynical picture about crime and its victims. And I apologize to the thieves. I haven't been very kind to you, either. But much of the thieves' success is due to our own laziness, lack of awareness or lack of preparation. Thieves prey on the easy take. Let's make it harder for them.

And now for this week's answer with attitude, to the age old question: "What are the police doing about this?" Well, I'll tell you.

After your purse is stolen, you call us. We look for witnesses, and review store surveillance video looking for the suspect. If we locate suspect information, we now try to identify and locate that suspect. We then have to track down where all your stolen credit cards were used, and go through the same process to try to find those suspects, because there is a good chance it is someone other than the original thief. If someone got a license plate number, we have to track that down, and try to locate the owner. After all that, we have to type the report.

So what are we doing about Lodi's theft you ask? Probably still writing the report from the last purse that was left in a shopping cart or on the seat of the car.

We do our best to go after thieves — we really do. But to be realistic, they outnumber us. If we as a community all work harder, then we can outnumber them.

Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at jbiskup@pd.lodi.gov; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.

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