WELL DRESSED gangs are on the prowl Panama’s malls and supermarkets targeting shoppers who have made purchases and returned them to their car or even attacking their victims when they visit a washroom.
The bands have " modernized " their modus operandi , according to officials of the National Police including Javier Ortiz , head of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) in Balboa saysLa Prensa
The thieves surprise their victims in the bathrooms and hallways and quicly move in when they see open bags and purses , or luggage carts carrying packages.
They work in teams of two, three or four members , men and women , always well dressed They rent cars or taxis to get around and operations are stepped up on weekends weekends , and pay days. Thefts at shopping centers have increased, say officials but it is difficult to say by how much, because most of the victims do not report abuse.
Police say that one reason for the increase is that the security guards are too few to for the number of people who pack the malls.
Surveillance cameras, have identified some groups, but their members have returned again and again and shoppers are advised to take precautions to avoid becoming the next victims.
An executive of a supermarket chain told Newsroom of teams of three who rob purses or unzip pockets in backpacks. One identifies a potential victim, the second carries out the theft and disappears down the aisle and passes the stolen goods or wallet to the third member of the team. who quietly exits the store. If the middleman is searched he has no stolen property to support charges.