Clearwater police looking for hugging bandit targeting elderly

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Clearwater police are looking for a hugging bandit preying on older men.

According to police, the woman walks up, talks like she knows them and then hugs them as she steals their wallets. One victim says she came up to him in a Publix parking lot.

“All of a sudden she starts talking to me real friendly like I know her,” said one victim who does not want to be identified.

He says she then jumped into an unlocked door of his car and started going through his things.

“She diverted my attention, with words I guess, and she slipped my Capitol One [card] out,” said the victim.

Not long after that, the man received a fraud alert from his credit card company.

Clearwater police say he’s not the only victim.

“She’s going up, acting like she knows them, hugging them, asking how their wife is, pretending she was a nurse at their doctor’s office. Then she’s taking their credit cards and going on shopping sprees at local stores. We’ve had five cases across the county and two in Clearwater just in the last three weeks,” said Rob Shaw with the Clearwater Police Department.

Shaw added the thief hit again at another Publix at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Shaw says if you have any information about the suspect, police would like to hear from you.

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