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Aside arrow Sheriff's Detectives Arrest Purse Thief Targeting Deltona Walmart Shoppers
November 16, 2019 10:45 am

Laura Williams
Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations

SHERIFF’S DETECTIVES ARREST DELAND PURSE THIEF
Woman, 57, Suspected of Targeting Older Shoppers at Deltona Walmart

Volusia sheriff’s detectives have arrested a DeLand woman who is suspected in multiple purse thefts while preying on older female shoppers.

Sandra Rivera, 57, of 1561 S. Boundary St., was arrested Friday at Walmart, 101 Howland Blvd., Deltona, after being observed by a loss prevention officer on video surveillance stealing an older shopper’s purse from her cart. However, the shopper saw Rivera pluck the purse out of her cart in a pharmacy aisle and stopped her at the end of the aisle, grabbing her purse out of her hand.

The shopper immediately reported the incident at the customer service desk, but became flustered when told law enforcement was on the way and said she was too upset to report the crime.

Walmart loss prevention officers have been on the lookout for Rivera since two purse thefts at the store – Oct. 18 and Oct. 22. Rivera has been identified and linked to both incidents and four additional pending cases by the Orange City Police Department, all at the same store.

Sheriff’s detectives know of at least seven purse thefts at the store but only two victims have filed police reports. Some victims fear retribution or a lengthy process.

There have been similarities between several cases. Rivera, identified through still photographs, surveillance video and witness statements as the suspect, follows victims into the store. She climbs onto an electrical handicap cart, follows the unsuspecting, sometimes older, 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.

She has been observed walking into other departments, without either the purse or the cart, and moves onto the next victim.

In the theft Oct. 18, the victim and her husband shopped at Walmart for more than an hour. Just as the female shopper went to check out, she realized her large blue purse was missing from her cart. The couple reported the theft; the purse was found in the store three days later. The victim told detectives she had lost $1,025 in valuables including a cell phone, miscellaneous gift cards, cash, jewelry, and a replacement driver’s license and Social Security card.

On Friday, as the latest theft was unfolding about 2:23 p.m., sheriff’s detectives were notified that Rivera had just been observed on surveillance video stealing a purse and then the victim retrieved it. Detectives and deputies arrived and set up a perimeter to locate Rivera. She was soon spotted and identified as Rivera, but without a black jacket she had been wearing moments before in surveillance video.

Rivera was charged with two counts of grand theft of less than $5,000, and two counts of possession/receive/retain stolen credit/debit cards for the two reported October thefts. She remains held at the Volusia County Branch Jail on $30,000 bail.

Unfortunately, detectives are unable to assign charges for purse thefts that victims don’t report. If anyone has information about similar purse thefts, please email Detective Weaver at wweaver@vcso.us. Or if you prefer to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 or via the P3 Tips mobile app. You may receive a cash reward.

Please be extra vigilant when shopping and keep your valuables close at hand. It only takes a moment to become a victim of a criminal looking for the opportunity.

 

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

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