ELLICOTT CITY. Md. - Howard County police said four women reported having their car windows smashed and their purses stolen Wednesday, the latest in a growing crime trend across the East Coast.
Police said Thursday’s spree was similar to a one between Dec. 2012 and Feb. 2013 in which the criminals stole purses, then used stolen checks and personal information to commit fraud and drain bank accounts.
"We can't urge people strongly enough not to leave property inside their cars, even if it's only for a few minutes," said Howard County police Chief William McMahon in a statement. "We know that in the past, these criminals have waited and watched for a woman to get out of her car without a purse. The moment she leaves the car, they smash the window, grab the bag and are gone."
Police said in the most recent cases this week, the victims reported leaving their purses in locked cars as they either dropped off their children at day care centers or worked out at the gym. They returned to find their car windows smashed and purses gone.
The incidents occurred at the following locations:
Police are urging women to take the following precautions:
Anyone who sees suspicious activity in a parking area, particularly near the types of locations being targeted, should call 911 immediately.
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