88-year-old’s wallet stolen while shopping with GPS tracker inside
Trips to Target were frequent for Cheryl Baity and her 88-year-old mother Jeanie Plant, both of Darien. But what happened Oct. 12 was a first.
“I was looking in the purse department, and these two men were talking to me, and they were trying to get a present for their mother for her birthday, and I was trying to help them,” explained Plant.
Little did she know it was part of a plan. Security camera footage shows what happened once Baity left her mother’s side. One of the men kept Plant’s attention on a rack in front of her while the other draped a shirt over his arm, hung it over Plant’s shopping cart, and stole her wallet from inside her zipped up purse at the bottom of the cart.
“They were very quick in the way they did it. We didn't realize anything was gone until we went to check out,” Baity told News 12.
By that time, the thieves had uploaded Plant’s credit cards to Apple Pay on several iPhones, according to Baity. She said within minutes, they’d charged $6,000.
But what the suspects didn’t know was Baity had put a GPS tracker in her mother’s wallet.
“I just thought in case she ever misplaced it. It never occurred to me that it'd be stolen,” Baity said. The device looks like a credit card and links to a mobile app, which allows the user to have the device ring to held find it. But even more important for Baity and Plant, it gives the location.
“The first thing I did when the wallet was missing was look at this, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness gracious,’” Baity recalled.
She said the app showed the thieves heading to White Plains, then Portchester and eventually back to Stamford, where she called police with their location. Baity said when officers arrived, they used her tracking app and clicked “find,” leading the device to go off in one of the suspect’s pockets.
But police told News 12 they didn’t find the wallet or anything else from it on the suspects or in their car so there wasn’t enough evidence for an onsite arrest. Since then, they’ve gotten the security camera footage from Target, along with video from police in White Plains and applied for an arrest warrant.
“I’m hoping very much that there is justice here,” Baity said. “I find it particularly heinous to steal from elderly people.”
Plant is not responsible for the credit card charges, but she also had a lot of cash and gift cards in her wallet, which are gone for good. It’s also been a hassle trying to get a new prescription card, Medicare card, vaccine card and license. Plant said she wanted to share her story to prevent someone else from becoming a victim.
“I hope other people realize you've got to watch your purse in these carts, even if it's zipped up, they'll unzip it and get something very quickly, so you have to be very alert,” Plant advised.
She said from now on, she’ll be holding her purse while shopping, no matter how heavy it is.
“I don't want to go through that again,” she said.