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Date of Issue: May 27, 2009

Retail thefts abate on AMI

Neither the Holmes Beach Police Department nor the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office substation in Anna Maria received any complaint of theft from a retail establishment last week.

The absence of reports came just a few weeks after store owners and clerks in both cities reported a rash of incidents involving two women who distracted the clerk long enough to rifle the cash register and steal the clerk’s purse.

In three reports in May — two in Anna Maria and one in Holmes Beach — the two suspects were described by police as black, middle-aged, heavy-set women who appeared to operate as a team.

The women enter a store and separate, while one engages the clerk in conversation about purchasing a large quantity of items.

While one woman distracts the clerk, the other manages to open the register or cash box and take whatever money is available, steal the clerk’s purse or some of its contents, and the theft goes undetected until they leave the store.

Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson advised retail store owners and clerks to be on the lookout for the women and report any suspicious activity.

“The incidents are under investigation and we’re working with the MCSO in Anna Maria,” said Stephenson.

Sgt. John Kenney of the MCSO in Anna Maria said he’s waiting for some DNA samples to come back from the laboratory that might identify the suspects.

Anyone who observes suspicious activity or people matching the suspect description, or is the victim of such a retail theft, should call their local law enforcement agency or 911, Stephenson said.

Holmes Beach police can be reached at 941-708-5804.