The thief immediately went using my Visa card inside the mall and then tried to get gas and charge another big amount at Best Buy before Chase denied the card.
We are not responsible for the $2,000 + that was put on my card (thankfully). I filed a police report and have done other things in hopes of helping law enforcement to catch the thief. The officer said they've had many reports of this very thing happening at that particular restaurant.
My advice, ladies, is don't do what I did and that is to hang your purse from your chair. I didn't want to place on the dirty floor but wish I had. Would have saved me much aggravation!
This restaurant is just the kind of place where this kind of crime could easily happen. It is kind of dark, very busy, lots of people milling around and you are easily distracted, especially if you're a Mom of young kids like me!
Better yet, leave your purse at home and let hubby carry your ID. Perhaps just bring a little purse with only the bare essentials.
I knew exactly what was in my wallet and it wasn't a lot: not much cash, a Visa card, ATM card, Sam's Club card and driver's license. Within 1/2 hour or so of returning home, I had the cards all canceled. We had a message from Chase about our Visa on our answering machine asking us to call immediately regarding the large charges. I was able to get a new driver's license the next morning.
Carry only what you really need and nothing you'd be sad/upset if you had stolen. No one needs tons of credit cards. Do not carry your Social Security card!
Someone very carefully and sneakily unzipped my purse and lifted my wallet without any of us being the wiser.
This restaurant really should let the patrons know or try to have security in place. I doubt though they want to advertise that customers are being robbed there, not too good for business.
Sorry this is so long but wanted to get the message out to be very careful with where you put your valuables when you are out in public. Take care with your wallets, purses and packages.
I will not be returning to the Rain Forest Cafe any time soon. It gives me a real bad feeling even when I think about it. Their prices are very high for what you get anyway. You're paying for the atmosphere which our children really enjoy but I definitely could live without after this incidence!
By Debbie52 from IL
Here is a video of another sneaky trick to get a purse!
I've taken to carrying only credit cards and drivers license in a change purse, that is big enough to hold my keys, in a pocket.
Had something similar happen to me also and it is a headache to fix everything and get all the credit cards taken care of, pay for new license, etc. I'm much more careful with my purse now. I refuse to quit carrying a purse since I love my purses! I did however take out all sentimental items and put only essentials and replaceable items in it. Sad lesson to learn.
I shopped at a grocery store where there were at least 3 purse snatching episodes. I decided that I didn't want to be one of the victims so I took matters into my own hands.
I took an old purse I had, stuffed it with junk mail, filled an old wallet with play money and even thought of putting in some dog poop in a plastic baggie, but didn't. I also put some heavy things in the purse....like an old shoe, a water bottle filled with water and some other matter that I can't remember.
I carried my purse in a very careless manner hanging off my shoulder, put it in a grocery cart and left my eyes off it while I looked for grocery items. Sure enough, someone grabbed it and ran off. I yelled that my purse was stolen and by the time the thief was to the front door security had stopped him.
I was delighted when the police arrived to take him into custody to report that the purse was full of junk. He was arrested for stealing junk mail, play money, etc. I'm still laughing.
To guard against purse snatching, when I buckle my seat belt I also buckle at least one handle of my purse into it. This also comes in handy when I need something out of my purse while I'm driving.
Whenever I'm shopping, and shopping carts are available, I "strap" my purse into the child seat. Doing this allows me to shop and not have to worry about my purse being stolen.
When you are grocery shopping, turning your back can result in a quick grab of your purse if left unattended in the grocery cart. An easy way to greatly hinder, or even eliminate, this is to use a camping clip (carabiner) to snap your purse handles onto the cart.
I like to use purses with an across the body strap while shopping, but sometimes it isn't convenient or I need to use a different purse. Then I just put my purse in the basket part of the cart and loop the child seatbelt through my purse's handle twice.
With all the purses snatched each year from grocery carts, here is a hint. You know the straps used to hold in children, use them to hold your purse in, so they have to take the buggy too instead of just your purse.
Since I previously lost my billfold and all of my i.d. at one time, I now always keep an extra credit card and my driver's license in a side, zip pocket of my purse.
I've heard news announcers tell us to use the seat belt in a shopping cart to keep our purses safe by putting it through the handle of the purse and snapping it closed. Sometimes the seat belt is broken or missing, so it isn't always possible.
My purse always seems very heavy so I like to set it in the child seat of my shopping cart. I try to never take my hand off it. But just in case I do for a brief moment, I ALWAYS loop the child safety strap through my purse handle and lock it!
Be safe, don't carry a purse, use your pockets! Organize your multi-pocket jeans, and slacks.
Don't carry a purse when you shop, wear jeans or pants with deep pockets and only carry your wallet and keys in your pockets. You will find that you really don't need all that excess stuff you collect in your purse. By Syd
Where can I find purse safety straps?
By Jim from Indio, CA
I am not so sure if you can purchase just the straps but here's some online info about safety purses: http://www.corporatetravelsafety.com/security_purse.html
You could always call a few shoe repairs places (they also repair purses) and see what they have to say. Hope this helps.
Have a Safe Shopping Trip. Lock in your purse while shopping.
Take the safety seat belt on the shopping cart and run it through the straps on your purse and hook it. If someone tries to grab your purse, the strap will STOP them. At least for enough time for you to scream OR get Help. Happy Shopping.
Source: This article is from me. I hope it will save someone purse.
By Mary Louise from BayMinette, AL
That is such a smart and clever idea! I will be using that idea from now on! (02/15/2008)
I will do that, thanks! (02/15/2008)
I bought 2 metal clips at WalMart for $.88 in the jewelry dept. and hitched them to the straps of my purse. When shopping, open the baby seat on cart, put purse where baby would sit and clip it to the backrest for baby. I used to just use the 'seat belt' around the handle of purse, but lately, there is only one strap on the cart. With these clips, I'm always sure of being able to protect my purse and they can't be cut by a thief! (02/15/2008)
You still have to be careful that a thief doesn't steal your wallet out of your purse. (02/15/2008)
After my mother's legal checkbook was stolen out of the seat BENEATH my strapped-in purse, I began double wrapping the straps through my purse handles. I won't shop at a store that has bad straps on their baskets. It certainly discourages a thief, but what's more important is to not look away or turn your back on your purse for a single moment.
That checkbook was taken in the twinkling of an eye. Good ending: It was returned two weeks later, according to the manager, but with HALF of the cash that was in it for the day. I thanked the squirrely manager. As I took and looked for all the cash, commenting to him, "Please thank whoever took this for not taking ALL of the cash!" He nodded OK before he realized that it implicated an employee or someone he knew!
I'd never suspected that a store employee was stealing from patrons until that happened. You can't trust ANYONE now days! And, it's going to get worse, not better because of the way things are changing in our economy, laws, government.
Buckle up, sit tight, hold on, open your eyes and ears, and STAY ALERT ALL OF THE TIME. God bless and keep you. : ) (02/16/2008)
This is a good reminder. I used to work retail and often saw women leave their open purses in the baby seat of the grocery cart while they looked at merchandise.
You'd be better off putting your wallet and car keys in an inside pocket while you're shopping. And don't leave any important stuff in your purse, like credit cards, drivers license, Social security card, etc. When the thieves use your credit cards, they'll be using your id too.
I've seen purses returned intact many times by store clerks, and only once in 4 years did I hear of one case where a clerk tried to steal something from a customer. That clerk got caught and fired. (02/16/2008)
I've been doing this for a while but still I never let my purse out of my site and I don't park my cart even where I can see it and walk away. My cart stays with me right by where I'm looking and usually even if my purse is strapped in, I still have my hand on it. I had my van broken into and my purse stolen when I stupidly locked it in at my daughter's gymnastics lesson. Also my wallet was stolen out of my purse at a restaurant when again I stupidly hung the purse on my chair rather than set on the dirty floor. I've had to learn a valuable lesson.
Strapping your purse in the baby seat of a cart won't do any good if you look away or leave your cart on one side of the aisle while you pick out your item on the other side.
I still like to carry a purse when I go out but I use a smallish one and only carry minimal essentials.
It is terrible that there are so many crooks out in the world but that's how it is and I don't see it changing. If anything it will get worse. There's always someone who wants what others have. (02/16/2008)
I do this all the time but it gave me a false sense of security. Not too long ago I left the buggy unattended behind me just a few seconds and when I turned around, it was gone. Fortunately it was just a buggy mix up with another lady but it made me realize to keep my hand or eye on my buggy at all times. Also I never use the kind of purses where you can just reach in. They have to have lots of compartments and zippers. (02/16/2008)
By Lily May
If there is no safety strap available, I use a slip knot with the strap of my purse. Might not keep someone from taking it, but like you said, will give you time to respond in some form. (02/17/2008)
By Barb. W.
My pocketbook never leaves my shoulder and is zipped at all times. (02/18/2008)
I also do this everywhere that offers the safety strap. (02/25/2008)