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Police search for bar thief

December 29, 2000

Deepa Bharath

NEWPORT BEACH -- Police are looking for a woman suspected of pilfering

unattended purses and wallets, mostly in local bars and restaurants over

the last six months.

The thefts have been happening on a regular basis, said Newport Beach

Police Det. Darcy Andelin.

"We've had at least a couple a week," he said. "It's been a continual

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problem."

The woman, who is described as 5-foot-2 with light-colored hair, was

last seen Dec. 6 on a security camera recording at Robinsons-May in

Fashion Island, police said..

She was using stolen credit cards to buy clothing worth about $1,500,

officials said.

The same woman also was caught on tape at an Albertsons in Newport

Beach on Dec. 2, Andelin said.

"She tried to use stolen cards there too," he said. "But it didn't

work, and she left with [another] other woman."

In most cases, the woman tries to use the cards minutes after she

steals them, Andelin said.

Officials said the biggest challenge in arresting such criminals is

the rapid speed at which they operate.

Victims are often people who leave their bags dangling on a chair or

those who place their wallets on a bar counter and turn the other way, he

said.

"Mostly the [thief] reaches into a bag and steals a purse or wallet

from the bag," Andelin said. "So by the time the victim realizes it's

gone, a day has passed."

The woman may also have worked with others, he said. Three men and a

woman have been seen accompanying her at various times.

The incidents tend to occur Friday and Saturday nights, when bars and

restaurants are busiest, he added.

Anybody with information is asked to call Andelin at (949) 644-3762.

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