Sandra Rivera was identified through photographs, surveillance video and witness statements, but only two of the seven victims filed a police report, authorities said.
DELTONA — A DeLand woman was arrested Friday for stealing purses on seven separate occasions from older female shoppers at a local Walmart, according to authorities.
Sandra Rivera, 57, was arrested at the Deltona Walmart, 101 Howland Blvd., after a loss prevention officer saw her stealing an older shopper’s purse from her cart on video surveillance around 2:23 p.m., according to a press release from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
The press release stated that when the woman saw Rivera grab the purse in the pharmacy aisle of the store, she stopped her at the end of the aisle and grabbed her purse out of Rivera’s hand.
The shopper reported the incident to customer service but said she was too upset to report the crime, according to the press release.
When detectives and deputies arrived, they set up a perimeter to locate Rivera. When she was found, she was not wearing a black jacket that had been seen in video surveillance, the press release said.
And this wasn’t the first time Rivera had stolen a purse at the store, according to officials. Walmart’s loss prevention officers had been on the lookout for Rivera for two separate purse thefts, once on Oct. 18 and another on Oct. 22.
Authorities say Rivera has been linked to both incidents in addition to four pending cases by the Orange City Police Department. All of which occurred at the same Walmart. Only two of the seven victims have filed police reports.
Rivera has been identified in the seven cases — which have many similarities — through photographs, surveillance video and witness statements. Authorities said she follows victims into the store, climbs onto an electrical handicap cart, follows the unsuspecting victims down the aisle and removes the purse out of the cart. Rivera then goes to the next aisle, quickly removes valuables such as cash and gift cards, then hides the purse behind other merchandise.
Which is what happened during the Oct. 18 incident, according to the release. The victim and her husband were shopping for more than an hour and just as they were about to check out, the victim realized her large, blue purse was missing from her cart.
The couple reported the theft to authorities. The purse was found in the store three days later, with $1,025 of valuables missing including the victim’s cellphone, gift cards, cash, jewelry, driver’s license and social security card.
Rivera is being charged with two counts of grand theft and two counts of possession of stolen credit or debit cards for the two reported October thefts. She’s currently being held at the Volusia County Branch Jail on $30,000 bond.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said they are not able to assign charges for the five purse thefts that weren’t reported. If anyone has information on similar purse thefts, contact Detective William Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org.