Woman trying to recover thousands of dollars after a brazen theft

Dec 11, 2023, 6:11 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2023, 10:43 am

RIVERTON — A Utah mother is in the process of recovering thousands of dollars after a brazen theft in broad daylight.

Joy Thomas, 70, was having lunch with family at the Panera in Mountain View Village around noon Thursday when she says she was targeted by a couple who sat at a table behind her.

“They’re so brazen, they reach over even with my kids sitting there facing them and took out the credit cards,” Thomas said.

Thomas had set her purse next to her feet while eating lunch, never suspecting that someone would steal from it in a busy restaurant.

“It makes you feel very violated and angry,” she said.

In a Facebook post that has now been shared more than 1,000 times, Thomas’ children shared surveillance photos they received from Panera of the theft.

Brazen theft

In the photos, you see the woman behind Thomas reach to the floor as if to pick something up, she then conceals her hand with what appears to be a scarf as she steals Thomas’ wallet from her purse. Seconds later, she’s removing her debit and credit cards and handing them to the man sitting with her at the table. She then returns the wallet to Thomas’ purse.

“They reach over even with my kids sitting there facing them,” said Thomas.

Thomas says the couple left the restaurant and within 45 minutes were charging her debit card.

“It’s so disheartening to think people will do that, I mean my husband and I are on a fixed income, and they proceeded to go to the Apple Store and charge $2,700 with of merchandise, which we certainly don’t have the money to go do,” she said.

Thomas contacted Riverton police, who confirmed they have an open investigation into the theft. She hopes by sharing her experience other Utah families will be on the lookout for this couple, and keep their personal belongings close while out enjoying a meal or shopping.

“They’re so good at it, I’m sure it wasn’t their first time,” Thomas said. “Just be so careful, keep your purse with you at all times and don’t take any chances with your wallet.”

“I can confirm to you that this certainly is an isolated case, talking with the detectives and officers involved, this type of brazen reach in somebody’s purse in broad daylight is not something we see very often,” said Josh Lee, Riverton city communications director.

Lee said anyone who can identify the two individuals in the surveillance photos the victim shared on Facebook should contact the Riverton Police Department.

KSL TV made several attempts to contact Riverton police and city officials to find out if this theft was an isolated incident or if other similar thefts have been reported in recent weeks but did not receive a response before publishing this story late Monday night. This story has since been updated with a response from Riverton city officials.

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Woman trying to recover thousands of dollars after a brazen theft