LAS VEGAS - A woman was arrested after attempting to steal an unsuspecting victim's purse from the front seat of her car. The brazen burglary occurred in broad daylight, while the purse owner was putting gas in her vehicle at a gas station near Sahara Avenue and Hualapai Way.
Heather, who didn't want her last name revealed, watched the burglary of her purse unfold. She says a woman, whom police have identified as Cierra Michel, wrapped a t-shirt around her fist and punched out the passenger side window of Heather's car.
"She came in and she went boom, boom, boom, saw her punch it like four times, and then I saw it shatter," Heather said.
Michel snatched the purse off the front seat.
"My Social Security card, which I'm dumb for, my credit cards, I have like six of them, my I.D.," Heather said.
Michel took off in her own car before going home and taking a picture of herself with her new stolen camera. Police eventually nabbed Michel and arrested her for burglary.
Heather says police told her Michel could be part of a fraud ring.
"I was scared she might go use my card somewhere or take my identity, which that would freak me out," she said. "She wouldn't get much, but that would like ruin my life."
That means her Social Security numbers could be floating around. Her I.D. card, her address and anything else could be used to create fake accounts under her name.
Metro Police says people are just as vulnerable during the day as at night. Women, who traditionally run errands and have their hands full with children, are most likely to be victimized during the day. Kathy Perkins with Metro's Crime Prevention Unit says criminals will always take chances, even if you're out of your car for a minute.
"They're persistent. They've got nothing else better to do, so they do spend their time seeking out opportunities and crafting their skill," she said. "Certainly, some get very good at it, very proficient, and some take risks and aren't as good."
Metro says people can take steps to protect themselves: lock it, take it, hide it. If you're at the gym or the gas station – which are two common places for break-ins – lock your car.
Additionally, hold on to your valuables. If you can't bring them with you, place them in your trunk, so they are out of sight.
The FBI says victims need to act as fast as the criminals in cases like these. If you are the victim of a burglary or robbery, immediately call your card companies and cancel your cards. Secondly, call one of the major credit report agencies and put a fraud alert on your account. If all else fails, you can ultimately get a new Social Security number.
Heather, meanwhile, has kept a close watch on her finances. Her broken window and stolen items were enough that she doesn't want to remain a victim for good.
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