May 3, 2006 – Posted at 8:02 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- A team of thieves are walking out of Region 8 stores with their pockets full...and they're using one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Poplar Bluff Police officials are warning store owners and cashiers to be on the look out for a team of crooks using little more the confusion and charm.
"They are using distraction, confusion and the old trick of sleight of hand. In order to accomplish their mission which is to take on a checker one on one," said Assistant Police Chief Gary Pride.
It's a problem the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce is concerned about. They've warned area business to be on high-alert.
"From our perspective, our membership is very important to us and anything we can do to help them succeed or keep from getting stolen from, you know that is also our responsibility," said Ken Parrett of the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce.
The ring of thieves usually purchase one small item and begin their distraction when clerk's hand back the change. A lot of talk and trickery is leaving cash registers light.
"We've seen it to where a $50 or $100 bill that they initially started with can easily lead into a $500 or $1,000 theft from that checker before it is over with," said Pride.
Pride believes the team may have come from the Memphis or Little Rock area and are preying on busy stores.
"We have absolutely no reason to doubt that they intend to hit all of the bigger cities throughout the Region 8 viewing area," said Pride.