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Thieves target small businesses

A string of thefts in the Chilton County area has left several store clerks with empty purses and missing wallets.

In most of the incidents, a pair of perpetrators entered the store pretending to be interested in making a purchase. While one distracted the clerk or owner with questions, the other took the person’s wallet or similar item. The suspects are also wanted for credit card fraud.

“These people are coming into these small shops. There are usually two at a time,” said Clanton Police Detective Freddie Mayfield. “We just want to warn local merchants.”

The first theft occurred in mid-July at Southern Belle Boutique in Clanton. Reports indicate that two heavy set, black females entered the business, and one of the women took a wallet and checkbook from the owner’s purse.

In another instance, a credit card was stolen at Jemison Florist by women of the same description and later used at Hibbett Sports in Clanton to purchase nearly $200 in merchandise.

A wallet was stolen at yet another Clanton business located near KayeCee’s Flea and Antique Mall. Mayfield could not confirm the name of the business.

Stolen credit cards were reported used at Seales Grocery in Maplesville and at Walmart and JC Penney in Selma. Another credit card, thought to be stolen from a Montgomery location, was used at the Clanton Walmart to make purchases of $419.91 and $350, Mayfield said.

Mayfield said all business owners and clerks should be aware of the problem, especially in places where there is only one person on duty. He also warns them to be careful.

“Don’t get hurt trying to be a hero,” he said. “All we want is a (vehicle) tag number.”