SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Costco shopper hopes to spread an awareness message after a thief snatched his wallet and immediately began racking up charges.
Marilyn Johnston, 76, says her wallet was in her purse on Tuesday afternoon when she put her purse in the front of the cart and pushed it into the Costco at Carmel Mountain.
“He was always close to me, or I was pushing him, so your purse is right in front of you,” Johnston said.
Johnston says she picked up a few items and after half an hour of shopping she was approached by a stranger.
She says that during a shoe display, as the cart was facing in one direction, a woman turned her attention in the other direction.
Johnston says the dark-haired woman in her 40s asked him if a shoe was a size 9, a US size, and if it would fit the woman’s mother.
“I said it was a 9. I said it was in the States, and I said ‘You should ask her,’ and then she kind of left,” Johnston said.
In about half an hour she tried to check. She looked in her purse and found her wallet, missing.
“It’s devastating. I couldn’t believe it. 100% a violation,” Johnston said.
A call to a credit card company discovered two charges at a nearby Home Depot, each for over $1,000.
An attempted charge of $2,500 was rejected by fraud filters.
“It made me think it was professional… while I was in the store, and it couldn’t have been more than half an hour later, they were at Home Depot and Target in charge of everything. they could,” Johnston said.
The thief charged more than $5,000 on credit and debit cards, with more than $5,000 more in purchases that were rejected.
Marilyn thinks the thief may have followed her around the store – possibly targeting her because of her age – before moving in with these distracting questions, while an accomplice snatched her wallet.
“You have to be very vigilant, aware of the surroundings… If they’re not caught, I’m sure you’ll continue to target the elderly and others,” Johnston said.
Johnston says she hopes credit card companies pay her back.
She filed a police report and thinks there might be surveillance video of the thief.
ABC 10News has contacted Costco for comment and is awaiting a response.