Thief targets parents dropping kids off for school

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane identity thief is making money by preying on unsuspecting parents while they drop their kids off at school.

Detectives said she looks like any other mother but is one of the most prolific identity thieves in the area right now. Her victims are parents who leave personal belongings in the open, thinking they will only be gone for a second. But that's all the time it takes for this thief to make a move.

"People are just pulling up in the load zone. They're going to run for just a minute to drop something off or pick up a kid and in thirty seconds it's done," said Detective Bryan Tafoya with the Spokane Police Department.

Thief targets parents dropping kids off for school

Even parents who take the precaution of locking their doors aren't safe from a smash and grab job.

"The window was broken. It cost us a little over a thousand dollars. My wife's purse was stolen, her friend's purse was stolen," said Scott Smiley.

Detectives said it took less than an hour for charges on the credit cards taken in that robbery to start showing up from a local mall. More than $2,500 in purchases were made from ten different stores that same day.

"Our suspect went straight to NorthTown and immediately started using the stolen credit cards," said Tafoya.

Most of the purchases were for high-value items that could be exchanged for drug money.

"They have got to have $200 to $250 every single day just to not get sick," Tafoya said.

So what's the lesson in this?

"Women shouldn't leave their purses in their cars anytime," Smiley said. "No matter if it's just five minutes to pick up your child or going to the grocery store, there are people watching. It's their job, and we need to have the community watch out and protect each other."