Thieves target St. Johns County mom at Publix

Investigators in St. Johns County believe a group of thieves may be targeting women in local grocery stores.

A St. Johns County mom says she was shopping at a Publix on SR 13 when she noticed she kept running into a woman in one of the aisles.

She said a few minutes later, a man approached her, asking for help with tortillas.

“He gets me to turn kind of away from my cart. He’s pointing to it and acting like he doesn’t speak English,” said the victim, who didn’t want to be identified.

She said when she went to pay for her groceries, she noticed her wallet was gone.

She told store managers, who took a look at the surveillance footage.

“As I’m watching on camera, they’re basically following me throughout the store but I didn’t know that because I’m focusing on getting the things I need,” she said.

According to a police report, her card was used within 45 minutes of it being stolen.

Someone charged $4,000 to the card at Best Buy on Southside Boulevard in Jacksonville.

The report says the suspects were seen on video approaching several different women, looking for the right victim.

Action News Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson said thieves begin scouting in the parking lot.

“They’re looking at you, looking at what type of bag you have. They’re looking to see if you have children with you or alone,” Jefferson said.

He said shoppers, especially women, should be alert and protect their valuables by strapping their bags to carts while shopping.

As deputies review surveillance video from Publix and Best Buy, shoppers say they’re going to be more careful.

“I think it kind of reminds you to be more aware of who’s around you, who’s getting too close to you,” said Nikki Grigoryants, a shopper.​