Police warn shoppers of an increase in credit card theft

NOW: Police warn shoppers of an increase in credit card theft

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- The Mishawaka Police Department is urging shoppers to stay vigilant after it saw a spike in reports of stolen credit and debit cards over the last week. 

Lt. Tim Williams with Mishawaka Police says the last time the department saw this many credit card thefts within a week was in March of 2015. 

"So it's not isolated to one time or season," said Williams. "But since this is a busy time for us and we're always on the go and a lot of times always in a hurry, it's important for us to really be reminded to be more vigilant of our purse, our wallets, our property."

The cards are reportedly being stolen from purses hanging over chairs in restaurants or being left in shopping carts. 

Those cards are then being used within an hour to buy large quantities of items at popular businesses in the area of Grape Road and Main Street. Police say it is unknown where all of the transactions have occurred, and are advising card users in the area to check with their local bank or credit card company to ensure their account is safe. 

To prevent cards from being stolen, Williams advises keeping personal items close. 

"There are going to be people out there who will probably purposefully distract you to keep your mind off your purse or your wallet or whatever it is, and then take whatever they can out of it," he said. "So it's very important for us to keep that with us. If we're going to go shopping, especially in a grocery store, let's make sure we keep our purse on us and not leave it in the cart."

Williams advises to only take what you need when shopping. He suggests using a phone case with a credit card holder in it, or carrying a small wallet with only a few cards. 

The department is asking anyone with information on this card theft and fraud to contact police. 

"If you happen to have witnessed anybody doing this at some of our shopping stores please call us," said Williams. "We'd really like to catch the people who are doing this. They're that Grinch at Christmastime that's going to be taking away money from families that want to be able to purchase things for their children."

The Mishawaka Police Department can be reached at 574-258-1684 or information can be relayed to Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP or 1-800-342-STOP. 

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