'Sliders' at gas stations stealing purses

August 8, 2013 (HOUSTON)

Police in Houston say thieves are looking for purses left unattended in a car -- then the crooks slide in and swipe them.

In one surveillance video of a woman filling up her SUV, a silver car pulls up next to her like just another customer. While the woman focuses on the gas pump, the crook crouches down, opens the passenger door and grabs her purse. The entire crime took 19 seconds. That's a "slider" at work.

"They say it's sliding because they're sliding below the eye level of the door," said Jim Woods, Houston police.

In another surveillance tape, while a woman is inside the store, a car pulls up, a man checks the doors and takes a quick peek inside. The woman comes out, and while she's pumping gas the man jumps through the driver's side window, grabs her purse and is gone. She never noticed a thing.

"A vehicle is not a secure location for your property," said Woods.

Woods says crooks hit all parts of town, watching for women who leave their purses on the passenger seat, doors unlocked and are distracted. Police say what these crooks are really looking for is a common mistake. And that's thinking, "I'm standing next to my car, so no one would be crazy enough to try to break into my car when I'm standing right next to it."

Woods says these burglaries can be stopped by women keeping their purses out of sight or taking their purse with them when they pump gas and always locking their doors. Sydney Zenon who goes a step further.

"I don't hold the pump, I usually click the holder on the pump so I can have time to actually scan what's going on around me," Zenon said.

Andrea Kahle says she does lock her doors, but leaves her purse out in the open.

"It should probably be in the glove compartment, underneath the seat somewhere. On my side versus the passenger side, lesson learned," she said.

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