The arrest of a veteran thief allegedly working Aventura Mall as a pickpocket this month highlights the basics of holiday mall shopping security:
Keep everything shut. And pay attention.
Aventura police arrested Silvia Lorenzo, a 58-year-old with two petit theft convictions and two third-degree grand theft convictions. Lorenzo faces two counts of third-degree grand theft now in Miami-Dade, six months after Broward prosecutors dropped a third-degree grand theft charge. An arrest report from Sunrise police said she got busted after a U.S. Polo Assn. employee stopped her from lifting a customer’s wallet at Sawgrass Mills mall.
Lorenzo’s most recent arrest report says she wore a wig to swipe a Louis Vuitton wallet allegedly with $500 cash in Gap Kids on Nov. 2. Surveillance video on Nov. 19 from the Victoria’s Secret at Aventura Mall shows a woman in a black wig getting suspiciously close to a customer several times before leaving.
Aventura police said several shoppers reported being pick-pocketed in November, prompting an investigation.
On Saturday, according to the arrest report, Lorenzo was back in Gap Kids in a black wig when she tried to steal another wallet. This time, the intervention of an employee caused Lorenzo to throw down the items she used as props to cover her thievery and skedaddled out of the store. Police later followed her around the mall, then to her home before bringing her in for questioning.
Security tips for holiday shopping at populous shopping areas.
▪ Shut purses and clutches until you need to go into them. As convenient as it is for you to be able to just reach in and get what you want, it’s just that convenient for the pickpocket also.
▪ Pay attention to people around you. If someone’s violating your personal space, turn and look them in the eye before restoring your space. Then also, look at their shoes and let them know you’re looking at their shoes. Thieves can switch shirts most easily — Lorenzo allegedly did in a Forever 21 as police followed her — and pants next easiest. Shoes aren’t a quick change.
▪ Men, put wallets in your front pants pocket, particularly your front left pants pocket. While it might feel uncomfortable if you’re right handed, it’s likely even more so for the pickpocket, who is also likely to be right handed. The classic bump-and-run move from the front would have to be made with the pickpocket’s left hand.
▪ Don’t put wallets, phones, etc. down on chairs or tables. This might seem like common sense, but it’s something we do when we’re too lazy to put them away in purses or pockets.